When most of us were 14 years old, the biggest thing we had to look forward to was probably getting a new hair clip at the mall and our learner’s permit. Sound familiar?
Well, if you are member of the Bedia Tribe of India, turning 14 means one thing- kicking your virginity to the curb, literally.
“Tonight, one girl in particular is attracting attention as she sits on a stool by a fire so that she can be seen by passing vehicles. Her heavily made-up, striking face and beautiful pink sari make her look as if she were on her way to a party. But the truth is different. Suli, 14, is a virgin and a bidding war is being held for the right to be the first to sleep with her.”
^^ Nita (left), 13, is a virgin and has four sisters, all prostitutes. Her makeup is all for her “first time”, in which her family hopes to get 40,000 rupees or a little under $1,200.
Girls born into the Bedia tribe become prostitutes as a rite of passage into adult-hood, sorta like a cotillion but without the new dress, presentation of poetry and parents and friends attending (we hope). The tribe has a long history of caste-based prostitution and a girl’s first time is celebrated much like that of a wedding. While this practice is not forced, for many of the girls, turning tricks is the best available option.
“…Nita is only 13 but has opted to follow her sisters into the trade. It is her own “choice”, because, she giggled, “I won’t have to do any housework.”
But in avoiding making chapatis, Nita has signed up to a life in which she will deal with 20 to 30 clients per day, until she reaches her forties. After that, when she is no longer considered desirable, she will depend on any children she may have for support.”
While many of the women mentioned in the story expressed that they don’t want their daughters in the trade, they readily admit that being a prostitute has made their lives easier.
Choosing prostitution as a profession is these womenâ€™s decision to make, right? It’s funny that we don’t see Unicef, or any other major international aid organizations stepping in anytime soon. The Bedia are considered a lower caste in India, and this practice is viewed as a tradition implemented by choice, even if it involves teenage girls. So with the Bedia, how does one approach the issue of culture vs. politics?
One could argue that this is akin to a family business, or that this tribe is destroying the potential of their women. In making either argument, we seek to serve criticism of a culture and tradition that is older than all of us and will probably continue. Are any of us really in the position to question that? This tribe has identified itself with this practice, making the two interchangeable.
Our western society has a naughty habit of being very choosy when it comes to what is wrong and right regarding women, professionally and sexually. Remember how we swooned over Memoirs of a Geisha? Well, they were whores with nice robes. Julia Roberts probably made a few girls consider turning tricks in Hollywood after seeing Pretty Woman. On television’s “Law & Order,” Ice-T plays a detective, yet readily affiliates himself with pimping in real life. Have you seen his girl Co-Co or her calendar lately? Actually, let’s not even get into our country’s fascination with the pimp culture, we’ll save that for later.
Either way, we here at Parlour arenâ€™t sure what our take should be on this issue. Weâ€™re still mulling it over. What you ladies think?
For Sale; 13-year old Virgin [Telegraph]
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