I woke up this morning imagining what it would feel like to reenter the Red Light District that I had once walked in when I was 19 years old. It has been 7 years but the images that I saw then have flooded my mind almost daily. Once entering the area, our team of seven went to one building that was owned by a believer. We were told by this believer that only the women on our team could go inside of the brothels. The men would need to stay and pray. So we prayed together, covering ourselves with scripture and asking for an all encompassing protection. My husband reached over and anointed my head with oil. When he did this I felt peace come over me and the Fathers blessing to take the light He has given me into a place of darkness.
There are nearly 9,000 brothels in this Red Light District. We went into five of them today. I will not be able to share all of our experiences and conversations on this blog. Firstly, we want to protect the young women and girls. Therefore, every name will be changed and exact descriptions will not be given. Secondly, we want to protect the believer who took us directly into these places. There is much favor on her life within the RLD. She has sat with the owners, served them tea, and prayed with them. Owners have released girls to her to train them in a vocation allowing them to make a living by other means then selling themselves. What she is doing is loving them how Jesus loves them. He wants a relationship with us! Here relationships are being established and change is happening before our eyes. During our time here in India we hope to help her write her first book so that you can read her story…it is something fierce to hear and it should be shared with the world.
Each brothel is owned by different men and women. The girls are traded between shops and are put on display for purchase. Upon entering the RLD the girls are told that they must “marry god” and that every sexual act performed is “a sacrifice and worship offering.” In the eyes of their god, they are doing nothing wrong but instead honoring “it” in the process. Yet they receive nothing. Why would anyone want to marry a god that only brings pain and where joy abides not? The answer is FEAR. Brothel keepers, owners, madams use manipulation and brainwashing to fear them into staying. Then there is debt.
The first major sell is when the virginity is bought, it is the most expensive purchase. Daily charges include: shelter, food, clothes, washing, bathing, and medications. Even the water they drink they are charged for! A bookkeeper writes down time and price of each customer and action. Everything is to show how much profit is being made and how much daily debt the girls accrue. There is one woman that is in charge of each brothel. She is the head over the girls in her area. Each brothel shop may have anywhere from 6-10 living there plus their children. Her job is to monitor and watch them daily to keep track of how many customers they serve. If they refuse they are beaten severely and more debt is added by the brothel owner. One brothel madam told me today, “It is a business, I am 35 years old, there is no other work for me.” Her face was tired and she looked to be much older. She then asked us to pray for her.
As we climbed the steps of these brothels, men anywhere from age 20-40 would pass us. Each would go into a room the size of a small closet only large enough for a mat to fit and the door would close behind them. These “room closets” were side by side and perhaps 5×7 feet, if that. It is there only that they work and it is there that they sleep. On the outside of the doors there were locks. Babies were on the floor playing. Women were combing their hair or putting on more makeup. As long as they are making money some women will do acts of service for as little as 10 rupees (less than 20 cents in USD) This is their life. A constant struggle to get out of a debt that is ever increasing.
The girls are encouraged to “climb the ladder.” This will further them into categories of luxury and encourages them to work harder building their client base. The younger girls are not found on the streets or in the door ways of the brothels. They are kept inside and are more costly. Those who earn more wages get better facilities and living arrangements. Customers have been known to persuade the girls by saying “I want to marry you, I can get you out of here.” Then when they have escaped, if still alive, the customer then takes them to another city and sells them to a different brothel. Where they then start completely over with new debts and new surroundings.
They are trained for life experiences and taught how to talk to customers to ask interesting questions, but they are not educated. One girl I spoke with today was 22 years of age. She has been in this brothel since her 17th birthday. When I asked her if she would like to get out and if her debt could be paid she immediately replied “Yes, but I do not know how to write and no one will take me for hire. I am supporting my mother who is ill and my two brothers plus their families by being here. I have no other choice. No one else will support them.” She told me she prays to Yeshu (Jesus) every morning and every night. Then she asked us to pray for her. Afterwards she said her body was filled with shanti (peace) and asked us to come back to see her again. Once trust and friendship are established then rescue is safer.
After reading this blog please forward our website ( LOVEJOHNANDHOPE.COM ) to as many contacts as possible. We need your prayers and support. Change must start somewhere! We would love to continue sharing our journey here with you and the making of HOMELAND for HOPE here in India!