Good Night Red Light

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  • March 15, 2010

One of our members, Jim Varghese, serves an organization called Bombay Teen Challenge. Since 1990, BTC has been fighting human trafficking and serving the destitute of the red light district of Mumbai. We’ve asked Jim to share updates about this effort as we seek to partner with it. The following is Jim’s first post.

"There are more slaves today than in any point in human history.
E. Benjamin Skinner, A Crime So Monstrous 

My first experience with the subject of human trafficking came in 2006 when my wife and I moved to India to live and work there for two years. I was working at the time for a group that provided funding for indigenous organizations working in various fields of social and economic development. My assignment was to work with different organizations in the city of Mumbai that were involved in the area of HIV/AIDS and human trafficking. The horror of this crime broke me when I saw the faces of those that had been deceived and trafficked into the red light districts of Mumbai where their lives forever would be changed.

One of the saddest sights is to ride through the red light districts of Mumbai and see girls as young as 12 whose faces are made up with heavy makeup standing by the doorway of these small and narrow buildings. For a quick second, you think of a much more serene scenario of a daughter that has made her way into her parent’s room and tries on her mother’s makeup pretending to be a grown up. But the harsh reality quickly reemerges to strike away that innocent wish. For these young girls have not snuck into their parents room, no, they have been snatched away from their families to a place very far from home. And they don’t pretend to be a grown up, they so desperately long to be back to the innocence of their childhood, playing, studying, and living in their villages with their friends. Having had their innocence ripped away, they now live simply for survival.

Bombay Teen Challenge (BTC), one of the groups that I worked with then and that I work for now finds these women in these conditions, broken and without hope, some very young and others that came when they were young but have now spent years surviving the hells of the red light district. In most cases, agents of the brothels will go into small towns and villages and promise jobs for their daughters in the city to families that are in poverty and have no means of getting ahead. With the hope that their daughter might be able to save her and them, they send her off. The never ending nightmares begins here and unless someone comes into intervene, there is no hope.

It was amazing to see how the Lord was using BTC to bring light into a very dark place. They have a campus that is two hours away from the city of Mumbai where those that have been rescued come and live. I came at a time when they were having a worship service and it was a great picture of redemption. Despite having gone through so much pain and torment, they were joyful and singing and dancing to the Savior. I came away thinking how great our God is, that He could reach to the most broken of lives and make it new again.

It is estimated that there are over hundred thousand women used in prostitution in the city of Mumbai alone. It’s easy to read through this, become lost in the enormity of the problem and then walk away. But unless we step in the gap, these young women trapped in the brothels will remain in their torment.

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About Ajay Thomas

Ajay lives in Philadelphia with his wife Shainu and their kids Hannah and Micah. He is responsible for preaching and vision as a pastor at Seven Mile Road.

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