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Mothers in India’s sex trade struggle for children’s education


Summary of story from WeNews, June 14, 2011

Large numbers of children of Indian sex workers drop out of secondary school either because they are embarrassed about having parents in sex work or can’t afford tuition.

But a 2010 study commissioned by UNICEF and the Women and Child and Social Welfare Department of the government of West Bengal also found that mothers were keen to give their child an education. Almost all sex workers enroll their children in school.

“Things remain fine up to the primary level as queries from young children on family backgrounds are limited,” says Bharati Dey, program director of the Mahila Samanway Committee, a nongovernmental organization run by the sex workers in Kolkata.

She says problems arise in higher grades when students get more curious and intrusive with one another.

“This often leads to humiliation and a psychological inadequacy amongst children from red-light areas as friends start avoiding or ostracizing them once the truth comes out,” Dey says.

Girls are also often pressured to follow a family tradition of women earning a living by sex work.

Researchers recommended more vocational training courses for the offspring of sex workers, particularly female adolescents under pressure to earn money.

They also suggested community centers for the children with hours of operation that would cover the odd work hours of sex workers.

But only so much can be achieved by sex workers, their children and advocates.

The researchers also pleaded for greater sensitivity from school communities–teachers, parents and children–towards the vulnerabilities faced by these students.

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