IPP is excited to participate in Freeset’s 12 days of Christmas because not only do we love what Freeset is all about, but we actually partner with them to create a number of our Tees! We know that it will take collaboration with all kinds of organization to bring an end to sex slavery and are so grateful for the work Freeset is committed to. Today’s guest post comes from their Annie Hilton. Enjoy!
On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me….5 golden rings…
Now, I actually do possess 5 gold rings – 4 from my husband and the fifth – my Grandma’s wedding ring. All are symbols of love. Moving into our new neighborhood has prompted many questions of…Are you married ? How many children do you have? Etc etc. In my own culture, the symbol of a wedding ring speaks for itself. But here it is different. Many question why don’t I have gold bangles, a ring in my nose (Muslim) or red and white bangles and red powder in my hair and a dot on my forehead (Hindu).
It got me thinking of how much culture shapes and molds our thinking and can dictate our lives. In the villages we are beginning to visit, we realize that girls are not expected to have a voice – they are told what to do, are expected to help around the home and at a very young age made to feel inferior to their brothers. Inspite of the laws of the land – the practice of child-brides is still too common. Arranged marriages still very much in practice.
Monika was married at 11. We first met when she was 15, with a toddler in tow, living and working in Bow Bazaar, another Kolkata red-light area. Forced into “the line” after her so called husband brought and placed her there, prostitution her only option of feeding her little son. Monika is from a village called Joypur – just 6 kilometers dwon the road from Valkundi, where Freeset Fabrics will begin.
A freedom business is needed in Joypur – so young girls like Monika’s sister, don’t end up in the brothels of Sonagacchi or Bow Bazaar. Dream with us this Christmas, as we begin to dream of a future that can be different for the young women of Joypur. Joy to the world – wouldn’t it be amazing if these women could be offered another choice and there could be Joy in the hearts and minds of those in the village of Joypur in the Christmases to come.