In the bare dirt courtyard of a low-slung building in a small farming village, a group of girls chase one another in a round of kabaddi, a local schoolyard game a bit like Red Rover. It could be any small village school in a desperately poor rural area of India — except that these girls have barely escaped a 21st century system of slavery. More children are sold into prostitution in India than in any other country. In villages such as Simraha, it is not uncommon for girls as young as 12 or 13 to be sold. The school keeps them safe and away from the home-based brothels that they were growing up in. At this school, many of the children playing games, doing homework, helping with dinner and making crafts are the daughters of prostitutes. They are members of a marginalized caste known as the Nat community, which is trapped in a system of hereditary prostitution.
Twelve-year-old Aarti Kumari combs her hair at the Kasturba Gandhi Girls School.
He forced himself on me. I was crying. I've given your parents money, I can use you for as long as I like.
A team of 13 doctors is said to be caring for the girl after she suffered serious injuries to the head, face, neck and chest in addition to the rape. The case comes days after Indian prime minister Narendra Modi issued an ordinance introducing the death penalty for child rapists. To become law, it will need to go before parliament within six months — but the punishment will be enforceable in the meantime. Violent crime against women has been rising in India despite tough legislation enacted in The government brought in laws doubling prison terms for rapists to 20 years and criminalising voyeurism, stalking and the trafficking of women. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists? Start your Independent Premium subscription today.
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