September 22, 2011
In a fetid shack swarming with flies, an old woman with a ravaged face is weeping so uncontrollably she struggles to speak.
When she does form words they are jerky and awkward, a string of incomprehensible denials. No, she does not remember. It was a long time ago. She does not understand how it happened. Eventually, distraught, she wanders out into the filthy yard where chickens peck fruitlessly at the dry earth.
It is deeply uncomfortable viewing. This old lady, so reduced by age and experience, has just been confronted with the hideous tradition at the heart of her community.
Her daughter – like virtually every other woman in this small Indian town – is a prostitute, sold into the sex trade when she was little more than a girl. Twenty years on, she is the sole provider for her decimated family, including the mewling baby lying in a wooden crib.Â The child belongs to her dead brother. It is a terrible irony that he was the man who sold her into sexual slavery and destroyed her life.