A Brothel Is No Place for a Child

This summer my husband and I made a trip to India with Immanuel Church to observe the work of Bombay Teen Challenge. BTC is a gospel-focused organization that works to rescue women out of sex-slavery in Mumbai. The Holy Spirit is at work there in the dark recesses of the city, calling these imprisoned women to himself and setting captives free in the most literal sense. In this post, I hope to give you one small glimpse inside one of these brothels.

I'm sitting on a wooden bench inside a brothel in Mumbai, India. This is the second brothel I have entered on 14th Lane in Kamathipura, one of the largest red-light districts in the world. The morning is underway here. Just like me, the women in this house wake and get dressed and eat breakfast. Just like me, they brush their hair, put on makeup, and get ready for the day.

Unlike me, they are not free to make their own to-do lists this morning. Today they have to undress and welcome hungry men who aren't their husbands into their beds. Today they will accept money for their services, and they will put that money into someone else's hand. They will find a way to accept this as normal again today.

An older woman sits to my left. Is she the owner of these young women or just the brothel manager? I don't know. She smiles warmly and chats in Hindi with Stella, our outreach leader from Bombay Teen Challenge. She reminds me of a young grandmother as she holds a tiny girl in her lap. The girl must be two-and-a-half, maybe three.

This is no place for you, little daughter. This is no place for anyone.

While Stella talks with the older woman, the little girl and I look at one another, investigate one another. She has baby-fine black hair and big brown eyes. The shelves of her bottom eyelids are rimmed with black. Someone has drawn a black dot between her eyebrows, probably with that same eyeliner pencil. She wears a black headband around her forehead.

I smile at her, but she offers no smile in return, only a wide-eyed stare. Her dark chocolate eyes take in the details of my face—my white skin, my green eyes. She sums me up while nestled against the chest of this woman. It troubles me that I can't figure out their not-quite-business, not-quite-family relationship.

On her little face, tears have washed a single trail from each eye down her cheeks; she had been crying when we entered. I slowly reach over and gently grasp her tiny toes, shaking them a little and smiling at her with my eyes. Her eyes smile back a little, reluctantly.

She guards herself against me, yet if she were to jump into my arms, I would do all I could to keep her safe and to love her fiercely. I would take her far away from all of this darkness and teach her about the Savior her little heart longs to know. She doesn't know who to trust in this world where up is down.

Who are you, precious little one? What is your name? What will become of you? I pray to Jesus that He will rescue you from this dark place. This is no place for you, little daughter. This is no place for anyone.

To find out more about the work in Mumbai or to learn how you can pray for these young women or for other sex slaves around the globe, visit BombayTeenChallenge.org, ExodusCry.com, or IJM.org.

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About the Author

Jennifer Case Cortez

Jennifer Case Cortez

Jennifer Case Cortez is a literary-agent-turned-stay-at-home-mom who loves connecting women with the Bible and one another. You can find more of Jennifer's writing in The Mom’s Bible, and Women on Life: A Call to Love the Unborn, Unloved & Neglected. In her free time, she enjoys playing the guitar, reading a good book or spending time with her husband, Daniel, and their small flock of Daniel look-alikes: Samuel, Joshua, Jacob, and Evelyn Grace.

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