Questions That The Girl In Pink Is Not Bothered About

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A 25-minute bike ride on the Guna-Bhopal road in Madhya Pradesh leads to Bediapura village in Bhopal district, the home of Bedia community. Far away from civilisation, the village faces constant ignorance from the government and administration. Much of it is because of a socially unaccepted cultural practice observed here.

The women here lure in the sources for its primary form of livelihood. Yes, you read it right! Bediapura is notoriously famous for its culturally accepted sex work, where the male counterpart of the family act as pimps for the women and girls who are devoured by the man from the vicinity of the village as well as nearby blocks. This statement in itself is enough to make someone feel flabbergasted.

As one enters the community, two jovial girls jog past giggling. One can see a distinctively thick layer of make-up with a prominently bright red lipstick and lustrous hair flowing behind them. They hopped at the threshold of the village and glared at me as we entered the village.

The girl in the pink

Walking past the narrow serpentine lanes I felt the gaze capturing each and every movement of mine. Through that boulevard, I reached a courtyard of a house where a couple of old ladies welcomed us and offered us seats, the credit of which goes to our guide at the community who helped us navigate through a community for which we had created apprehensions from what we had heard from different sources. A wrinkled, aged hand had extended towards me with a glass of cold water. The old lady was once a sex worker who has gone past her heydays. The mark of an era gone by was distinctively visible on her forehead with contrition sprinkled over it.

As I rinsed my mouth and spit the water out of my mouth and washed my face, I was drenched with guilt. The old lady informed, “Beta! We walk 2 km to fetch water, please do not throw it.” The commonality with which I grew up is a luxury for many. The guilt of doing that choked my voice for a couple of seconds. 

As I revived from the casualty, I noticed a girl in her teenage, maybe 16, dressed in pink, with a dark liner around her eyes and a pink shade swept past her fuller lips. That girl was in her prime as per the norms of the community and was one of the highest-earning sex workers from the community. Her clientele includes some influential people from the nearby blocks and students from educational institutions. She interacted like any other normal girl in her teens would do. As I was interacting with her, I wasn’t able to digest reality and wanted to ask her if she liked what she was doing. But I couldn’t, because the girl seemed happy and without any remorse, or at least it seemed so in that short span of interaction. Most of the girls here aspire to be high-end escorts and travel to Dubai. 

The women present in the community are earning a lot in comparison to other girls from other communities in their vicinity. They seem to have no reason to stop what they are doing. The old lady, who offered me water, on the other hand, had many reasons to change things from the past. Long lost and forlorn she has no companionship for the rest of her life. The girl in pink attracts many and is in no dirt of companionship. 

The villagers are living their lives as per the culture imbibed by their forefathers, far away from the societal judgement which has pushed them into the realm of rejection long ago.

Every day the girl in pink lives according to the culture which is considered as a taboo in Indian society. We often talk about preserving indigenous cultures and identities of the country. But should we preserve a culture that promotes sex-work? If not, then what alternatives are we providing to them for their livelihood? What is the alternative that would pay them as much if not more than what they are already earning? Shouldn’t people get the right to make the choices? Shouldn’t the choices be informed choices supported by conscious understandings? Should there be dignity in whatever we do? Or should dignity be distributed subjectively and selectively?   

These were some of the questions that deranged me as I made my way out of the village. Questions that I am eagerly waiting to indulge. Questions that the girl in pink is in no rush to rush. Questions that the girl in pink is not aware of or thought. Questions that the girl in pink is not bothered about.

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.

Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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