As if having to work in a harsh environment while being underaged is not bad enough, minor girls from poor tribal families in India are even forced to trade their bodies in exchange for their meagre daily wages.

India Today reported the plight of the victims in Chitrakoot, located about 700km from Uttar Pradesh.

To make matters worse, the victims' parents are reportedly aware of the exploitation, but they say they are unable to do anything against the powerful and wealthy who do the oppression via their illegal mines. The girls, aged 12 to 14, are also often burdened with the responsibility to contribute to the household income.

The contractors and middlemen force the victims to sell their bodies for a meagre daily wage of Rs 200-Rs 300, said the report.

India Today TV spoke to one of the victims, who only wanted to be identified as Soumya, from Karvi village, who related her ordeal of being forced to agree to trade her body, in order to secure a job.

"We are helpless, we agree to it. They give us a job, exploit us and they don't pay us our wages in full. When we refuse their sexual advances, they threaten to not employ us longer.

"What will we eat if we don't work? We eventually agree to their terms," she was quoted saying.

Another victim, Rinku (name changed) from a neighbouring village, told the portal that they are often threatened with bodily harm if they did not agree to the culprits' advances.

Her mother is aware of her daughter's suffering, but says she is powerless to do anything, as the family has to be fed, and her ill husband needs treatment.

The situation has been worsened by India's months-long lockdown to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, which has left a lot of poor daily wage earners desperate for a living.

There is still hope, however, as the authorities have taken note of the exploitation following India Today's report.

The district magistrate, as well as the state government, have ordered separate probes into the matter. The police and the child rights commission also said they have ordered separate investigations.

Source: India Today
Photo source: India Today