I would like to preface this post with this is a starting place for what will be a series of blog post about my time in Kolkata, India.
I never needed to enter a red light district for my heart to break for the men, women and children trapped in slavery. God broke my heart for what breaks His a long time ago. Over the past decade, I have been involved in different efforts to fight human trafficking. I have spent so many years studying slavery academically, raising awareness in my community, and volunteering with grassroots organizations, but this trip to Kolkata was something different altogether. As I walked amongst the marginalized and downtrodden of society, I saw firsthand the fragility of life and the depth of suffering that takes place in our world. I always knew that being on the ground would teach me something that I could never get from a textbook.
I don’t know if I can put words to what I saw as I spent time in and around one of the most notorious red light districts in the world. Over 10,000 women are packed into a square kilometer area that is visited by over 20,000 lust-driven men. That means that while we sleep these women—precious and beautiful daughters of the King—are repeatedly raped for profit. Most of these women never had a choice. They were sold into brothels by their family because they were a financial burden, they were preyed upon by traffickers who falsely promised them a better life, or they were born into brothels and have no way out. You see, once they are defiled in this way, they are shunned by their families, by society, and even by themselves. They begin to feel that they are dirty and believe that they are the underbelly of society.
Our own understanding can only carry us so far in a place like Sonagachi red light district, where pain and suffering is so prevalent, but what we can hold onto is hope. I felt so close to God these past few weeks as He increased my love for these women to new depths. In that I realized that God loves these women so much more than I ever could.
We always need a starting place let this be ours. Join me and let us start conversations that matter with our friends and family. We don't have to have it all together or figured out but let’s start right where we are. Let us share a message of hope. Let them know that although there are so many still in slavery, there are so many more rising up on their behalf. Let us cry together with one voice, set them free! Together we can change this.
Crystal, Founder and Visionary at All of Us Matter