RAISEN, MADHYA PRADESH: : Krishna Bai, 65, is trying to rewrite the future of girls in Sukha, a small hamlet in Raisen, just 50 kms from Bhopal. The place has been infamous for sexual exploitation of women from the Bedia community, pushing them into prostitution in the name of tradition. Her chosen weapon against the custom is education.
“When I became the sarpanch I spoke to the children and convinced them to study. Their parents were quite upset with me. They felt I am misguiding their children by pushing them away from prostitution,” she says. Things are changing now, with girls freely allowed to go to schools and colleges, she adds.
Krishna Bai began her fight for change from her own home. She convinced her relatives and cousins to give up the sex trade. Initially, there was stiff opposition from the village but over the years, she has managed to motivate 25 girls to give up prostitution and even helped them get married. At least 50 children from Sukha, who could have eventually ended up as sex workers, are now studying in schools and colleges carving a new future.
The daughter of a sex worker told NDTV,” Initially my parents opposed my studies. But Krishna bua (aunt) made them understand the value of education. Now I study in class 6 and I want to become a teacher and teach other children.”
Krishna Bai’s perseverance seems to have paid off and her work is now getting support from other villagers.
A sex worker says, “Parents of some girls are poor so to earn they get into the trade. After Krishna’s intervention a lot has changed. The girls now are getting married, they are studying. Things are much better.”
Standing up to the centuries old practice that exists in the name of tradition has not been easy. But, with a little help from the government, Krishna Bai says, she may be able end prostitution here completely in 10 years.