We conducted a need Assessment study in Thiruvananthapuram to identify the most needy children. Out of the 187 children identified, 37 children who required immediate assistance were selected. Among the 37, those who had their own houses and those who were staying with relatives and friends were given only educational grants. The remaining 17 children were admitted in orphanages. Out of the 12 orphanages identified, only five were willing to take these children.
Initially the decision was to admit the children only in centers which allow their mothers to be present at the time of admission. This was not allowed due to stigma of mothers being sexworkers. But another difficulty also arose. These children, though under our guardianship were taken away by their mothers without our knowledge. The center will inform us that the child is lost. A search will follow, locate and place the child back in the orphanage. But after three or four such incidents, the centers refused to take the children back.
The mothers have nothing but the child. They are struggling every moment with police, gundas, auto drivers and the public to exist on the street. Their difficulties are countless and the stress unbearable. When they earn money, their only source of enjoyment is with their children. When they are beaten up, they want their children to share their sorrow. They can’t obey the rules and restrictions of the orphanages because they cannot meet the children when they are in need. At the same time the people in the orphanage will do their best to de-link the child from the mother in order to provide a ‘respectable’ identity for the children. Unintentionally they will turn the child against the mother by portraying her as a corrupting element in society. The existing morality and life style will justify it. In other words admitting a sex worker’s child in an orphanage simply means sex workers losing the right to be a mother.