India (MNN) — It's not uncommon to hear about prostitution in India. The country sadly has a thriving red light district in which girls of all ages are exploited and sold.
But a look into a lesser-known sector of India's prostitution problem might surprise you.
According to an International Mission Board report, poor slums are not the only place to find prostitutes in India. Rather, Indian middle-class has a disturbing supply of what are called "fly prostitutes."
Fly prostitutes are typically middle-class housewives and students who sell their bodies to earn money to feed their children and pay the rent. Some are widows, and some are not. All are desperate, and as one woman testifies, "No one comes happily."
What would drive a woman into such a lifestyle? IMB says desperation. One woman, Ajanta Gupta, was widowed while still in her early 20s. She had HIV, two small children, and no job.
When a friend introduced Gupta to prostitution, she accepted. It was a quick way to earn cash and better income than another job she might have picked up. The Indian Ministry of Labor and Employment reported that a woman's daily wage for unskilled labor averages $1.25–three-fourths of a man's wage for equivalent work.
A woman's average wage is not nearly enough to support a family. And Gupta had to feed her family. Her story is echoed by many other women.
Others fall into prostitution from a lack of self-worth when husbands abuse them. Others have husbands with a second family, and they need to supplement their income.
Whatever the reason for women in middle-class India to change their lifestyle, IMB workers are seeking to bring them out of it to a better life. Two Indian pastors met with Gupta several months ago to better understand how to minister to people with HIV/AIDS. When Gupta revealed her profession to them, the conversation changed.
The pastors shared the Gospel with Gupta, and a small group of believers began meeting regularly in her home. Gupta's mother and sister also attended the meetings. Within a few weeks, Gupta and her mother both prayed to receive Christ.
Gupta is now working as a teacher's assistant at a small preschool, and a local church supplements her salary. She boldly tells her friends about her relationship with Christ and urges them to leave prostitution as well. More and more women are leaving prostitution and fleeing to Christ as a result of the weekly small groups and Gupta's care.
Many of the fly prostitutes Gupta and IMB workers have spoken to remain unconvinced. Many hearts have been hardened as a result of a life of being treated as worthless. Pray that these women would come to know the Lord and would trust Him to provide life to the full.