Pre-pubescent girls in India are often coerced or sold into prostitution before they even learn to read. More than 90% of girls whose mothers work in the profession follow the same path. India’s traditional caste system makes it difficult for young girls to understand that given a proper education, they could have a choice. According to Half The Sky Movement, more than 89% of prostitutes in India report wanting to escape, with up to 95% reporting cases of physical assault and abuse.
To supplement the family income, it is not uncommon in India for families to take their children out of school and force them to beg or work in some capacity. This is why many families say they cannot afford to send their children to school. But current education statistics force us to ask: can they afford not to?
According to the Indian District Information System for Education, the national dropout rate of elementary school children in India is over 40%. In rural areas, it is often worse. Less than half the population living in rural India can read at a basic level. Among girls, those numbers are even higher. Education and literacy have direct and real impacts on a child’s chances of reaching his or her full potential. Lack of education perpetuates the cycle of generational poverty.
Less than half of primary schools have an electricity connection. Less than 10% of elementary schools have access to computers, and less than 25% have access to libraries. There is a real need to provide proper educational environments for India’s growing child population to succeed.