Hyderabad: How Muslim women are falling prey to prostitution

Hyderabad: In a small dingy house located in a slum, a little away from Chandrayangutta in the older part of Hyderabad, stays Shakeela, a woman in late 30’s with her three children. For the local neighbours, she is a woman who is into tailoring and stitches clothes for a livelihood; however, a few know her by a different profession.

Shakeela, is one of the many women from minority communities, who are now forced into prostitution – either for easy money or no better alternatives. “My husband deserted me around four years ago; he was an auto rickshaw driver and married another woman. I was left alone, and somehow ‘slipped’ into this profession,” she told Siasat.com.

Several women from the minorities communities settled in different parts of the city are trapped in ‘prostitution’ irrespective of a lot of social work and activities taken up various groups. “Giving any approximate number is not an easy task, there are countless from north to south end and east to western end of the city. Most of them are single women,” explained a lady who previously involved in organizing prostitution and spoke on strict condition of anonymity.

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She further explains women who are in distress and from economic disadvantaged families are lured into prostitution by organized gangs existing almost everywhere in the city. “There are no social, cultural or religious exceptions, pimps are present everywhere, it could be your locality or mine as well,” she said confidently.

Huge money is fueling the business. Young women, who are deserted, divorced or with husbands but facing financial crisis are lured into the trade by the organizers. “The pimp charges in thousands from customers and pays only a few hundred to the woman. Huge profits are luring more persons to organize prostitution,” said a police official of Rachakonda police.

In October last year, the Balapur police arrested Rehana Begum (28), Syed Abu Baker (33), Salma (25), all organizers and one Ashu. A victim, a Muslim girl aged about 17 years (minor) was rescued.

A couple of weeks later the Balapur police arrested one Raziya Begum alias Arshiya, of Chandrayangutta for organizing prostitution. The police rescued two women including a victim. Both the victims are incidentally Muslim women.

In October 2020, the Abdullapurmet police arrested four persons including one Sana Khan of Chandrayangutta, Qamarunnisa (45) of Aramgarh, Mohd Parvez of Falaknuma and rescued four women from Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

“People of all religions and places were caught by the teams. Usually we don’t segregate on regional or religious basis, categorization is done only like active, hyper active and repeaters for surveillance,” added the official.

The prostitution organizers spread their Whatsapp numbers, Facebook accounts or instagram accounts in public domain. However, after verification and confirmation only the customer is allowed into the brothel house.

A social activist from the Old city Asif Khan, who is also involved in anti human trafficking activities, said that in fact the organizers are luring the women to travel to Gulf countries assuring good money. “It is a well organized trade, many local leaders apart from police personnel benefit through it. Easy money or hardship forces women into the trade,” he explained.

In the month of Ramzan, there is literally no work. In fact, women themselves stay away from all these, it is completely opposite in the other days, point out Shehnaz, another woman who is involved in the activity.

Lack of education, family support or proper planning from the community representatives or social or charitable organizations is one of the prime reasons for many to enter. “Few organizations approached us and assured us to help. In the end they asked us to learn beautician courses, tailoring etc. Tell us how much will a woman who has four children earn and sustain,” she questions.

A senior police official who is well known for his anti human trafficking work said that unless proper remunerative work is arranged, no victim will move out of the trade. “The remuneration should be on par with the basic expenditure like educating children, food and ration and other basic needs. Otherwise they search for alternatives,” he explained.

He said that young girls and women, who work are junior artist in film industry, work as waitress at function hall or do modeling or dance troupes are more vulnerable and get trapped easily.

The cycle of prostitution is unlikely to end if proper remuneration and feasible job opportunities are not arranged for.

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