‘Rajnat’ girls unable to quit flesh trade

Survey finds socio-cultural and economic reasons for this situation

The ‘Rajnat’ community of Rajasthan is struggling to give up prostitution, a profession it has practised for generations. But with no jobs on offer, even for educated members of the community, the girls have been forced to join dance bars in Mumbai. At least it ensures a decent income and a better future for their children.

The ‘rajnats’ or ‘nats’ were dancer and singers in the royal courts but were reduced to utter penury and took to prostitution with the decline of the feudal order. While most girls in the community were pushed into commercial sex, the men functioned as pimps and the tradition has continued. Though in most parts of the State, commercial sex work has been given up, there are pockets where some girls still follow the profession because even the educated men have no jobs and the situation has become even more difficult when it comes to girls.

“Two of my daughters are into the business. It was with great difficulties and challenges that I managed to get my third daughter married so that she was not pushed into this activity,” says a 48-year-old man in Nandlalpura. Two of his daughters were forced into prostitution as per the practice of the Rajnat community. One of them is working at a dancing bar in Mumbai and the other ‘serves’ clients at home. The man had to let his two daughters go into prostitution against his will, due to pressure from his family members and relatives. “You have eaten and lived on the money we earn from prostitution. Now when it is the turn of your daughters, why are you trying to spare them?” his family members ask him.

A survey conducted by World Vision, India in 2014 in 7 Rajnat areas, where the NGO currently works — Bhojpura, Teelawala, Nandlalpura, Bandarsindri, Bargaon, Narayana and S. Dhabha (Ganji) — in Jaipur and Ajmer districts, found socio-cultural and economic reasons behind young women getting into commercial sex.

Of the170 households surveyed, 185 girls/women were into commercial sex — mostly in the age group of 18-30 years — a majority simply follow the family tradition because of poor economic condition. “I want to change many things in the community but I do not know how I will,” says Rashmi, a Class X student who has a brilliant academic record and is being inspired by her mother to join the civil services.

“We want our daughters to be educated and live a respectable life but when they study where will we get good grooms from as the men are jobless and no one wants to have a matrimonial alliance with our community,” Ghanshyam Kamdhar, told The Hindu .

In Bandarsindri, the community has given up commercial sex work altogether. At least, four young men from this village are now studying in the nearby Central University of Rajasthan raising hopes among the community that even if one of them got a decent job, it could be a game changer.

“Commercial sexual exploitation of girls for financial benefits is a contemporary form of slavery. Our aim is not simply to save girls from trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation, but to make certain that they are not compelled to go back into the trade due to social and economic pressures. To achieve that end, we engage men, women, boys and girls for alternative employment opportunities,’’ says Karoline Davis, head of Gender and Development division of World Vision.

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