Where I am staying right now there are 30 girls between the ages of three and 18 living on the bottom floor. The SCNs are taking care of them from Asha Niwas, “The House of Hope.” There are orphaned children, some who are staying here while their mothers are working in women’s hostels and others, taken in from the brothels that they were born into.
There are 72 women religious congregations working in the Delhi area. Of those the SCNs are the only ones who meet with the women of the brothels.
Today Beena Chirackal, SCN, took me to G.B. Road in Delhi to meet some of the mothers of the children of Asha Niwas. We went to a brothel.
Garstin Bastion Road is Delhi’s local red light district. The madam of this brothel sat on top of her bed from a small room in the middle of the brothel. She currently has 15 girls under her. We met two mothers whose children are staying with the SCNs at Asha Niwas. The Sisters visit here to check on the young children who are not yet old enough to come to Asha Niwas. They also check on the health of the women who are working there.
Sister Beena says that the madam of this brothel encourages the girls to leave when they feel they are ready to and that she is one of the few to do so on G.B. Road.
I saw first hand where the women “work” and where they in turn sleep. One woman was sleeping as we came in with her young son. The spaces in which the girls live are smaller than closets. Some spaces were less than three feet in height. I was assured that this was one of the cleanest brothels. The entire place reminded me of my father’s old dairy operation, only dirtier.
For me, this was indeed the saddest place on earth today. For the girls working there, it seemed like a chance to possibly obtain something better.
Sister Beena says that the Sisters encourage the girls to leave prostitution, to reunite with their children if they are able to care for them, and that the Sisters will help them every step of the way — to leave G.B. Road behind.
Spalding Hurst is the communications specialist with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. He is currently traveling with the SCNs throughout India — learning first hand about their ministry work, helping to connect through technology the global SCN Community, and recording the stories of the Sisters in India.