As soon as we walked into the aftercare home, she came running up to me. I had no idea who she was, but I could tell she had a fiery spirit. She proceeded to take my hand and give me a tour of her home. In broken English she showed me around a dark building which housed about 25 women, all survivors of commercial sexual exploitation. The walls were green and dingy, the tile floors had seen better days, and the only furniture was in one room where the women slept on wooden cots all together. There were also several children there, some belonged to the women while others had been rescued after being trafficked for street begging.
Yet still, she was excited to share with me where she lived. This young girl, who did not even know her own age, had only memories of living in brothels. She was beautiful and so full of life, yet there was a sadness in her eyes that was hard to look at. And though she is in a better place now, this center is far from capable of giving the women the treatment that they need. That is why Rahab’s Rope is working so hard to open up a shelter of their own in this city, where these women can come and receive proper counseling and rehabilitation.
Right now, many of these women feel trapped because they have nowhere to go and no ability to provide for themselves. Some of them literally cannot leave, because they are awaiting trial. In India, prostitution is rampant and there is not much protection for the women exploited in this industry. Police will often raid brothels to keep up the imminent threat of arrest and ultimately to keep the bribes from brothels coming. Occasionally though, the police will make arrests and it is often the woman, not the brothel owner, trafficker, or customer who gets in trouble. The women caught are then sent to aftercare centers where they await trial. Each woman must go to court and testify that they were trafficked in order to avoid a sentence. This process can take years, and even then it is hard for these women to talk about what has happened to them.
So this building, with high concrete walls and barbed wire, is their new home. It is easy to think of these women simply going from one form of captivity to another, but it is better. And there is hope.
Hope that one day, these women can return to society and be self-sufficient. Hope that soon they can transfer to Rahab’s new aftercare home and seek better treatment. Hope in knowing that these women are also God’s daughters, and He is looking after them.
Another woman whom I connected with shared with me pictures of her two daughters. They were away at school so she did not get to see them, yet still there was so much love and pride in her heart. Although she did not speak any English, and she had already lived a life much more difficult than I could ever imagine, there was a light in her face that I immediately recognized. She knew who her Father was.
And that is what we have to hold onto. That despite all that this world tries to bring down on us, we have a God who can overcome any adversity. Despite all that this woman has experienced, she knows the love and joy of Christ. And in that dimly lit building, I know there are several lights shining brightly in the darkness.