Be careful or you might do more harm than good.
I was working in Kamathipura , the most notorious red light area of Mumbai, India, during my internship (medical training) . One day a 15 year old girl was brought to me with a horrible infection. Her vagina was like a big abscess oozing pus and she was suffering from fever. You could smell her from a mile. Sorry for this language but she had the stench of a rotting corpse. She was escorted by two men who I came to know later were pimps and goons.
I was very young at that time and overly enthusiastic. So I called up the police, picked up a fight with the goons. A huge verbal fight. Now, I did not get stabbed or raped or such only because I was a doctor and they needed me to cure the girl so she can get on with servicing the clients.
The police came after an hour… . they must have been hoping I would give up my childishness by then. I did not. So the police came. They took the complaint. Mine and the girl’s.
Then the police took both the pimp and the goon to the police station. They took the girl too promising that they would put her up in some rehabilitation center. I was very happy with myself. I treated myself with a big bar of chocolate and a movie.
Well, such cases kept coming and I did complain most of the times when the girls believed me . But not a single goon every picked up a fight with me from then on. Never. Why?
Now, all of you, just like me must be thinking a good job! Right? No, wrong.
I was at Kamithipura hospital for six months. After some time I realized the girls were coming back. Some of them starved to near death. Why? Because they sided with me during the police complaints. They were right back to where they started and even worse…they were being starved to death and servicing more clients as a way of punishment.
I learnt my lesson, no one warned me what harm I was doing. but I wish to tell you what I learned so you don't repeat my mistake and cause more harm than good.
This is what I have to say:
Do not put your head into someone’s life if you cannot follow up with your heart. And if it is a woman’s or a child’s ? You want to actually fight and help someone have dignity in life? There is nothing greater than that but be prepared to rehabilitate and then follow up till that person it completely self reliant….and sometimes these cases require babysitting for life. If you are prepared to do this go ahead if not be careful or you can do more harm than good.
Get media mileage and get tax benefits too, no problem but do something concrete in return.
Why am I complaining?
Because all these things raise the hopes of the women and children involved. Every time someone comes everyone hopes it will make a difference..their lives will get better. …these people wait and wait… and then someone again comes…till one day someone decides that she had enough heart break for a lifetime….And they give up hope altogether and when someone real comes they just shrug the good intentions away. Yes, because of all this useless show off…the real social workers require to put 10 times the effort to get these prostitutes and orphans to even listen!
So, Don’t, please don’t give hope if you cannot deliver and don’t leave anyone hanging halfway…there is no blunder that can be worse than that .
Today I counsel suicide cases, prostitutes, street urchins but only as few as I can handle in whatever little time I have. And yes, the first thing I do is to see if I can rehabilitate them with the best orphanages and women homes there are, even before I say hello to them.
Remember this : On the ground, within the stark reality of this dog eat dog world, half hearted promises do more harm than good.