Indian Virgins for Sale
CAIRO — Suli, 14, sat quietly by the side of the dusty high way to the Indian city of Jaipur. She is not waiting for a ride but rather for a customer willing to "buy" her virginity.
"I will go with whoever pays the highest price," the girl, dressed up in a brand new pink sari and heavy make-up, told the Sunday Telegraph on April 13.
Suli is the new hot selling of her small village, where some 59 families, all members of the low-caste Bedia tribe, push children as young as 12 to prostitution.
"I do not know how it is going to be," she said.
"I know other girls who are in the trade but I have not asked them how it is."
A virgin is sold to the highest bidder, who can have access to her as long as he likes, for anything over 20,000 rupees ($512).
If the girl is very pretty, the price could rise to some 40,000 rupees.
Prostitution is rife among many of India's low-caste, also known as the Dalits.
Dalits are those at the bottom of India's social system which separates people into Brahmin priests, warriors, farmers, laborers, and those beyond definition, including the Dalits.
Dalits often do the most menial jobs, while they are deprived of education either out of their abject poverty or discrimination at schools and universities.
Once a girl has lost her virginity she cannot marry and her prostitution rate goes down to 100 rupees.
She continues to sell her body until turning forty when she is no longer considered desirable.
She will then have to depend on any children she may have for financial support.
But some people, even old prostitutes, are fighting this business.
"My daughter will get educated, and not enter this profession," says Ritu, herself a victim of the trade.
"I have seen what it is like. I don't want it for her."
The plight of low-caste girls has drawn the attention of national and international groups who are working to break the prostitution cycle.
One of those groups is GNK, an NGO that has set up several hostel and schools to cater for prostitutes' children.
At one such hostels, a young boy proudly recounts how he had persuaded his grandmother not to push his aunt into prostitution.
"My grandmother said that she would kill herself if my aunt did not go into the trade and earn money," he told the Telegraph.
"But I persuaded her, and my aunt got married."
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