India (MNN) ― 500,000 minor girls are working as prostitutes across India.
The problem is especially significant in West Bengal. In just one year, 2,500 teenage girls were trafficked from the region. Some girls were kidnapped, others coerced into a life of sexual slavery.
Women with children sometimes choose to enter the realm of brothels and slavery as a means of survival. According to the EFCA ReachGlobal Web site, the average daily wages for rural women laborers in India is 34 to 43 upees (76 to 96 cents) a day, but prostitutes routinely make 100 to 300 rupees ($2.25 to $7.75) per customer and average three or four customers per day.
Whether young girls are kidnapped into the trade, or women enter the life to feed their children, much of the prostitution in India is preventable. Fighting it is vital.
"We have to do something to address the flow of women out of West Bengal, not just rescuing them one by one afterwards," says ReachGlobal staff member Sandy, who has worked in India for 15 years.
That's why Mukti, the ReachGlobal Justice Initiative program, opened its first sewing and embroidery training program in the province of West Bengal in April. Mukti gives the five women enrolled in the six-month program hope for supporting themselves with a traditional skill that is still valued in rural areas of India.
The program has been transformational over the last few months in the lives of these five women who no longer have to worry about selling their bodies just to eat. Not only have the women gained skills that they hope to turn into businesses, but they have met a Savior to heal them from the painful lives many of them were living.
"My husband did not take care of me," one woman told ReachGlobal. "He tortured me physically and mentally. Many times I wanted to do suicide. Nobody was there with whom I could share my pain. But when I came here, I got a new life.
"Before, I did not know about Jesus," she says. "I worshipped so many gods, but no one gave the response to my prayer. But after coming here, I am feeling good in my mind. I am getting peace. Jesus has given me so many answers to my prayers. I feel Jesus' love in my heart."
The woman adds that her husband has noticed the changes in her, and he is starting to change. "I want my son and my husband also to come to Jesus," she says.
The merits of the program are widespread, but to keep the program solvent, Mukti's organizers are looking for sponsors to pay for the women's training - $60 a month for six months.
Monthly support covers transportation costs for trainees and volunteers, materials used in training, graduation expenses, snacks, and the cost of stove fuel used to make tea. The sponsorship would help get more women into a program that aims to prevent as many as possible from getting dragged into prostitution.