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Childrens' stories from PUSS

The names of the children in the following stories have been changed to protect their identities.

S. P.

S is the daughter of M, a woman who works in a sexworkers' colony called Malisahi in Bhubaneswar. Soon after she was born, M gave the baby to Usha, the woman who runs the colony. Usha is very wealthy; she takes 50% of all the women's earnings, and manages the whole business. She decides which women get which customers, and all the women are afraid of her.

Usha was pleased to take the baby S; she planned to introduce her to sexwork as soon as possible, in order to ensure that she herself had a secure source of income when she grew old.

After some years, however, S's mother M realised that she did not want her daughter to grow up into the same profession as her own. She asked Usha to return the child to her. Usha was furious; she prevented M from having any customers, so that she came near to starvation, and she encouraged the man who lives with her and helps to manage the colony to beat her.

Poisoned to death
M became desperate and decided to run away from the colony. Some of the other women heard about her plans and told Usha; she decided to solve the problem once and for all, and put some poison in M's food. M died, leaving S at the mercy of Usha.

S was ten years old by this time. She knew enough about the life that awaited her to know that she did not want to follow her mother's path. Kadambini, the secretary of PUSS, happened to be visiting the colony at this time, in order to talk to some of the women whose children were already boarding at PUSS. S had heard about the PUSS school, and she nervously approached Kadambini and asked if she could join the residential school. Usha did not dare to stop her, and S was forthwith enrolled in class seven.

She has now been at PUSS for three years; she is already beginning to help with the smaller children. Usha comes to PUSS sometimes and demands that she should return to Malisahi. S refuses. She is happy at PUSS, and looks forward to living a useful honest life as a result of the good home and education she is enjoying in Naharkanta.

S. S.

S. S., the daughter of A, was born in Bhubaneswar in a colony of washermen, one of the lower caste groups in the city. Soon after she was born, however, her mother fell in love with another man, Prasant, a boy from an upper caste community. One day A. caught his wife and Prasant together. From that time on he treated her and her baby S. very cruelly. He did not give them food or clothing, and his relatives joined him in torturing them as punishment for her unfaithfulness.

As a result of this she decided to leave her husband A; she took S and went to live with Prasant. But they fared no better; Prasant's family refused to accept her, and everyone said that Prasant was S father. The couple were forced to move away from Prasant's family, and were excluded from A's and from S's mother's family and by Prasant's people; they were outcastes.

Prasant has no regular income; he occasionally works in a liquor shop, and is often in trouble with the police. S's mother is sometimes forced into sexwork in order to earn a few rupees to feed her daughter and herself, and Prasant was planning eventually to get some money by selling S to a local man who would bring her up as a sexworker.

When S was about eleven years old, Kadambini heard about her plight through her work with sexworker' children in the city. S was very happy to come to PUSS. She is now in class ten, and is doing well.

D, A and G

D, A and G are the daughters of a women who works in a sexworker's colony near the railway line in Bhubaneswar. Their father used to be a rickshaw puller, but he earned very little money, and spent most of what he earned on drink. He kept his rickshaw by the railway, and one day when he was walking drunkenly along the line a train ran him over. He survived, after some time in hospital, but he lost one leg and one arm.

The family had no proper home, and lived in a small shack by the roadside. They lived on their mother's earnings as a maid and as a sexworker, and the father sits in a wheelchair and blames them for all his problems. He had been given artificial limbs, but he did not use them much; more often, he used to throw them at his wife and his daughters in his rage, trying to force them to give him more food or some liquor; it was said that he had even tried to murder the children.

When the girls were seven, six and four years old their mother heard about PUSS and asked if the girls could join to get a school education. They were admitted to the boarding school, and are all three doing well.

Read more life stories about the children at PUSS

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