Little Humans of Falkland

Falkland Road, like Kamathipura, the infamous red-light area of Mumbai creates a myriad of perverse images in our minds, riddled with judgement and warped notions of a life we know little of. For many children, despite difficult realities, this place is home, associated with childhood memories and the warmth of their mothers’ affection, known more for their line of work, than their role as mothers.

Trafficking and freedom represent two contradictory worlds. As children of victims of sexual exploitation, trafficked and forced into the trade, the concept and meaning of ‘freedom’ comes laced with obstacles. The probability and proximity of being trafficked or sold into the trade remains higher, stripping them of the most essential opportunities in life, for no fault of their own.

This #IndependenceDay, as we revel in our world of free will and equality, we can’t help but call attention to many of those children who don’t… a reflection of how ‘independent’ our nation really is.

Stay tuned as we talk to Little Humans from Prerana Anti-Human Trafficking, an organization working to end intergenerational trafficking into prostitution, in a four-part series, to understand their notions of freedom while growing up in Mumbai’s brothels. #LittleHumansofFalklandRoad#littlehumans


“For me, freedom is freedom to go to Chowpatty. Because there is water and I can play freely.”
“What do you like the most about Chowpatty?”
“I want to apply sunscreen cream and sleep on the seaside.”
“So, why are you not free to go to Chowpatty?”
“We need someone to take care of us, we have heard of children getting kidnapped and forced to beg.”
“When did you go to Chowpatty last?”
“Two years ago.”

A deadly earthquake in Latur (Maharashtra) had shattered Amin’s family. He, in fact, never knew what a family is. His mother was married off as a teenager. And the natural calamity forced the entire family to migrate to Mumbai. But that wasn’t the answer to their agony. Poverty drove her in-laws to sell her to a pimp in the red-light area of Falkland Road. Amin, who is now 12 and studies in Class V, misses most what a family can give him— love, warmth, and outings on Sundays. #LittleHumansofFalklandRoad #littlehumans


“I feel everyone should get freedom to have nutritious food.”
“What do you like to eat?”
“I like Karela and Bhaji.”
“What would you choose to eat if you had the freedom to step out and buy anything you wanted?”
“I would love to go to McDonalds. I want to eat ‘bahar desh key phal’.”
#littlehumans #LittleHumansofFalkland#IndependenceDay

9 year old Samina (name changed) studies in Class II. Prerana spotted her during an outreach visit at the Falkland Road red-light area. It’s been three years since Samina has been part of the organization’s night care centre. Her mother was trafficked from West Bengal, owing to her father’s excessive drinking habit and poor financial condition back home, compelling her mother move to Mumbai for a job. She was coerced to shift to this unknown city by one of her friends under the pretext of getting her a job. Samina and her mother were brought into the unknown world at Falkland Road, quite contrary to what they had envisaged. Samina likes going out and dreams of going to Delhi to see India Gate.


“I want freedom to play.”
“But you can always play?”
“No, the area (red-light area) is always cramped-up. It is always jammed with vehicles. We do not get much space to play here.”
“Do you go out to play?”
“No, I don’t go out to play. Koi utha kar ley jayega.”
“What do you like to play the most?”
“I like cycling, but I do not get much space here. There are so many taxis moving around.”
“What else you dream of playing?”
“I want to do skating.”
#littlehumans #LittleHumansofFalkland

Aslam’s mother could never escape the vicious cycle of red-light areas. She once foiled fate’s attempt to push her to the dingy lanes of Falkland Road red-light area, only to eventually land there. Her husband pushed her back into the sex trade. He eventually sold her in a brothel in the area. Life and even narrow lanes of the red-light area give little freedom to 13 year old Aslam, who rues not having enough space to play. If given freedom, he will play his heart out, says this cricket lover.


“My freedom will be freedom to sleep.”
“But, don’t you get to sleep?”
“No. On weekends, when Prerana’s night care centre (NCC) is closed, I have to go home. During summers in my home, there is no electricity and it gets very hot. I don’t get sleep properly on weekends.”
“And in rainy season, my house gets drenched as water comes inside out house. I am not able to get a proper sleep in both the seasons.”
“How about other days of the week?”
“NCC mey accha lagta hai. I get proper sleep here.”
#littlehumans #LittleHumansofFalkland

Harsh’s father was alcoholic and abusive towards his mother, who was born and brought-up in the red-light area of Falkland Road. With no means of earning, she was thrown into the trade. But this mother made sure that her child gets an education. Today, Harsh is 11 and studies in Class V. He enjoys learning English, football, and Karate.


“How safe or unsafe do you feel is the red-light area?”
“No. It is unsafe kyonki wahan police raid hota hai.”
“What else makes you feel unsafe there?”
“Different types of people come there, so I feel unsafe. Daar lagtaa hai koi humko galat touch karega.”
“What scares you the most then?”
“Sleeping there at night.”
“What do you think of girls’ safety there?”
“Girls cannot roam around freely here. There are drunkards around.”
“What else do you dislike about red-light area?”
“People pee and spit anywhere.”
“So where do you feel safe?”
“Prerana. If all kids come here, it will be good.”
#littlehumans #LittleHumansofFalkland

A victim of an abusive marriage, Salim’s mother — like many other women in the red-light area of Falkland Road — too, was duped into coming to Mumbai earn a living. One of her acquaintances, who prodded her to migrate to the city, eventually sold her to a brothel-keeper. Salim’s mother had no idea that she was sold for the sex trade.
Being a mother and wanting the best for her child, she admitted Salim to Prerana. He has been with the organization since 2008 when he was five-and-a-half-years old. A Math wizard and a student of Wilson School, Salim is a key participant of the Yuva Arts Project, a cultural exchange programme to be held in Canada.


How safe or unsafe do you feel in the red-light area?”
“Daar lagtaa hai. Aunties grab uncles and pull them.”
“What scares you the most in red-light area?
“Whenever I go home at night, there are always fights going on downstairs. I cannot sleep in the ruckus. Police also take away children.”
“Why do police take away the kids?”
“Because they find children loitering around in the night.”
“How is the area for girls?”
“It is unsafe for girls. There are men who bother girls and harass them. They sell young girls and make them stand in the red-light areas.”
“What else do you find as unsafe here?”
“Bathroom ki kadi sahi sey lagti nahi hai. (The bathroom cannot be bolted properly). Anybody can barge in any time. Bathroom is not safe.”
“What terrifies you the most?”
“Wahan key log. (The people there.) Also, we feel unsafe because kids are taken away and forced into beggary.”
“Where do you feel safe then?”
“In Prerana.”
“Because I stay in the night care centre here, and I feel safe.”
#littlehumans #LittleHumansofFalkland

The fate of Rajesh’s mother, a widow, took a dark turn when one of her friends brought her to Mumbai on the pretext of getting a job. Rajesh’s mother was in a dire need to cover expenses for her ailing mother. She persisted and migrated to Mumbai only to realize later that she has been sold into the sex trade in Falkland Road. She eventually got caught in the vicious cycle of trafficking due to the atrocities of traffickers and a pressing need to pay her mother’s medical bills.

But she kept her child away from this life, by admitting him to Prerana’s night care centre. Rajesh has been with Prerana since he was three years of age. A talented child, he actively participates in Prerana’s cultural activities. Today, he has been selected to perform in a cultural exchange activity in Canada.


“What’s safety for you in a red-light area?”
“There is no safety whatsoever. I feel safe there only when I am with my mother.”
“What makes you feel unsafe at your home (brothel) in red-light areas?”
“Anyone can barge in anytime. There are four beds inside and we don’t know the customers who come in. Nasha karney waley rehtey hain. Daar lagta hai koi hum ko utha kar ley jayega.”
“What scares you the most there?”
“Our bathrooms have no doors there is just a curtain. Also, anyone can walk in when and where we are asleep. In our gali the “current electric meter” is open. I fear we might get electric shock.”
“How unsafe are women and girls there?”
“Women stand decked-up by the roadside. Men ogle at them and pass lewd remarks which the women hate. Girls here do not have any freedom. They are inappropriately touched a sort of ‘bad touch’. Men talk to them in abusive language.”
“So, there is nothing like safety for girls at all?
No. There is no safety. Most girls are scared of their papas (pimps).”
“What do papas do to kids?”
“Papa log nashey ki cheez mangwatey hain.”
“Where do you feel safe then?”
“In Prerana. There are dadas (brothers) and tais/didis (sisters). Nobody can come inside Prerana’s centre without permission. I feel safe here than in the brothel where my mother has to stay.”
#littlehumans #LittleHumansofFalkland

Saket (name changed) joined Prerana when he was 10. His mother was brought from West Bengal to Mumbai by one of her acquaintances. Her poor financial conditions and her daughter’s deteriorating health was yet another factor that forced Saket’s mother to migrate to the city, and was forced into the sex trade.Seeing the condition of his mother, Saket dreams to join the Indian Army. He aspires to serve the country and inspire the youth in the red-light areas to pull their mothers out of the horror of the sex trade. Drawing, cricket and football are this young boy’s talents.


“How much do you feel is the red-light area (Turbhe) is safe or unsafe?”
“It’s not safe at all! Agar ma rahegi toh hi thoda safe rahega.”
“When do you feel unsafe the most?”
“We feel unsafe during the police raids. Police pakadti hai. Red-light area mein kuch bhi safe nahi rahtaa. . Bhai-dada log (hooligans) keep fighting. They extort money.”
“What else do they make you do?”
“They make us run errand for the nashyey ki cheez.”
“How are girls treated there? How much is it unsafe for them?”
“I don’t think they are safe here.”
“So where do you feel safe then? Is there any place where you feel safe?”
“Red-light is surely unsafe. We feel safe at Prerana’s centre.”
#littlehumans #LittleHumansofFalkland

Riyaz’s mother shared the same fate as most women in the red-light areas do — brought on the pretext of getting an employment in Mumbai and sold in brothels there. She was trafficked from a village in Karnataka, where she had no source of income, and was sold in the red-light area of Turbhe. Six years later Riyaz was born.

Riyaz has been availing Prerana’s Night Care Centre facility since he was two years old. An avid painter, he is pursuing his studies through The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS).


“Priya, how clean and hygienic is the red-light area of Kamathipura? What would you say about its sanitation conditions?”
“Wahan acchey log nahi rehtey. (Good people don’t stay there.) The entire place is dirty.”
“How do you want the area around your home to be?”
“Mera ghar bhaji market mey hai. Mera ghar aisa kar do ki koi hamarey ghar thookey na.” (I have a home in bhaji market. Make my home such that nobody spits there.)
“So, who spits and what do you do when they spit?”
” ‘Admi log’ (customers and pimps) spit on our roads. And when we object they say, “hamari marzi.” (It’s our choice). They spit paan & gutka.”
“What do you tell them then?”
“I explain to them that it’s because of them that BMC (Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai) people have to come, get into all the dirt and clean it. The BMC “people” shout at us thinking that we make the place dirty.”
“How does the garbage, filth and dirt around affect you?”
“We eat amid this filth and smell. Out toilet smells and there is a gutter below the toilet. If “hero heroine” come for shooting, they will say Bombay is dirty.”
” Who dirties the place the most apart from customers?”
“Little kids make it filthy. They don’t understand. They pee and excrete outside.”
“Why is that?”
“Because there are many mothers who live on road and their children loiter around.”
“What are the kind of ailments people get if the area in not kept clean?”
“In Kamathipura, people suffer from dengue, malaria, headache, fever, and stomach ache.”
“What message would you like to give to the people there?”
“If you don’t keep the place clean, you will be punished. I will shout if people don’t put the garbage in the dustbin. I will tell them due to all these ‘apna Bharat swacch nahi rehta’. Agar hum saaf suthrey nahi rahey toh upar wala saaf suthra nahi rahega.”
#littlehumans #LittleHumansofKamathipura

Priya loves to talk in English. The moment one asks her for her an introduction, she starts narrating everything about herself from her favourite teacher to her favourite subject, with apt fluency. This 10-year-old student of Kamathipura Municipal School has been with Prerana for the last two years. Ever since, Prerana has become a home to Priya. She feels safe there and wants to stay in Prerana’s Naunihal — a shelter home for girls.


“Have you been taught about sanitation and hygiene at Prerana and at your school?”
” Do you think people maintain hygiene in the red-light area of Kamathipura?”
“Not at all. The place is very dirty. ‘Sab gutka kha key phektey hain.’ (Everyone spit gutka).”
“Who spits ‘gutka’?”
“Aadmi (pimps), and customers and outsiders who come there.”
“Are there no dustbins?”
“There are a few, but people throw garbage on the road. And there are ‘gutka’ stains everywhere.”
“Are there drains there?”
“Yes, there are gutters. People throw garbage there too and it becomes dirty.”
“There is a gutter close to where we take a bath.”
“So, there are toilets?”
“Yes. But common ones.”
“How many people use one toilet?”
“11 to 12 people.”
“Do boys and girls have separate toilets?”
“No, we have common ones.”
“Are the toilets clean?”
“No. Unknown ‘aadmi log’ come there and make it dirty.”
“I feel very unsafe then.”
“Do you have a water connection there?”
“So, you get drinking water as well?”
“Yes. But the tank is not clean. There is dirt in the water. Sometimes, we have to drink dirty water.”
“When do you get water there?”
“At 4 in the morning.”
“Does BMC come there?”
“Yes. But our playground is dirty.”
“What do you do to remain clean and hygenic?”
“I always wash my hands and eat. I do not throw garbage on the roads. I wear neat clothes and I regularly bathe.”
“Where did you learn this?”
“At Prerana.”
#littlehumans #LittleHumansofKamathipura

Counted amongst the brighter students in his class, Shiba loves reading. Even though his mother became a victim of commercial sexual exploitation, it did not dissuade him from pursuing his studies. With Prerana for the past four years, this 10-year-old student of Class V, realizes how the power of education can give him and his mother a better life.


“When we talk about the Kamathipura red-light area, what comes to mind first?”
“Kichad kichad (muddy). There is no cleanliness here.”
“Why do you feel it’s dirty there?”
“Outside people (customers) make it dirty. But little kids also spoil it.”
“How do they do that?”
“You see, those kids who go to sanstha (welfare organizations) remain clean, but many kids stay on roads and they are dirty.”
“And why do they loiter around?”
“There is no safety room for women in the red-light area, so many women sleep along the roadside. Their children just roam around dirty.”
“What sanitation issue do you face in your house?”
“Our toilets do not get light. Also, customers on the ground floor (brothels) throw gutka, kagaj, tobacco and cigarettes there. ‘Mummy log’ (prostituted women) also throw cigarettes and liquor bottles.”
“Why do you think people keep the place dirty?”
“Because it’s always been this way — dirty.”
#littlehumans #LittleHumansofKamathipura

A tiny 12 year old girl, Simran, is always enthusiastic about being organized, staying neat and clean, and learning new things. She is also a singer, who is part of Prerana’s cultural exchange programme to be held in Canada. Simran’s mother, a victim of commercial sexual exploitation, had her admitted in Prerana’s Night Care Centre on an experimental basis when she finally felt it to be a place safest for her children.

Salim 2

“If you were to define Kamathipura in one word among “neat, not so neat, dirty, extremely dirty”, what would it be?”
“It is extremely dirty.”
“Who makes the area dirty?”
“Admi log (customers & pimps). They visit houses (brothels) and make them dirty.”
“What do they do there which makes the place dirty?”
“They pee, they spit gutka in toilets and never even flush it.”
“How are the toilets in the buildings?”
“They are dirty. Sometimes we don’t get water. And the passage to houses are also dark and dingy, with no natural light coming in. There is no ventilation either. It smells.”
“Does the BMC clean the area?”
“Yes, it does. But again after Friday bazaar, the area becomes dirty. People simply dump garbage on roads there.”
“How about the children?”
“Sometimes, kids do not take a bath because they don’t get water. But now many of them remain clean.”
“We learnt about benefits of remaining neat and clean during the Independence Day.awareness rally (march) by Prerana.”
#littlehumans #LittleHumansofKamathipura

Thirteen-year-old Salim has known red-light areas since his childhood. His mother was trafficked from West Bengal when one of her acquaintances brought her to Mumbai on the pretext of giving employment in a “karkhana” (factory). However, she ended up being forced to work in Falkland road playhouses — a den of sex trade. Salim found shelter in Prerana’s night care centre. He is also an avid football player.


“Who is your role model?”
“Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam”
“And why?”
“I admire the way he struggled and rose to become such a great person. I want to become like him.”
“Why do you want to become like him?”
“I want to make a different kind of weapon for soldiers of my country, so that even if they are attacked nothing happens to them.”
“You like studying? How much do you want to study?
Yes. ‘Mujhey pandhravi key aagey padna hai.’ (I want to study beyond my graduation).”
“What do you want to study then?”
“And why do you want to study only science? What do you want to become?”
“I want to become a scientist.”
“How will you help your other friends and mothers in red-light area after you become a scientist?”
“After I become scientist and I have money, I will open factories for mothers here. I will pay them well so they need not have to work in red-light area for want of money. ‘Kum paisey miltey hain toh wapas wahin khadey ho jayengey.’ (Underpayment forces them to go and stand back in the red-light areas.)”
#littlehumans #LittleHumansofFalkland

There are big dreams in his little eyes. He idolizes Dhoni and aspires to be like Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. His friends call him a wizard of Math, as he feels his love for numbers helps him keep a track of “hisab” (budget) on his mother’s behalf. Jeevan is also good at dance and drama.


“What do you want to become in your life?”
“I dream of being in ‘military’ (Army). I remember watching that hero in Commando 2.”
“How did you come to know about ‘military’?”
“Prerana took us to a programme where military personnel were present. They shared their experience with us. Military people also came to our school once. They told us why they stand on the border.”
“What will you do, being in ‘military’, for the red-light areas?”
“I will spread awareness. I will talk to women here and motivate them to take up other jobs. I will encourage children to work hard, get a good job, and take their mothers out of red-light areas.”
“What qualities do you feel you have which can help you achieve this?
I have leadership quality. I can inspire people. Mai logo ko hausala dey sakta hoon. (I can encourage people).”
“What are the challenges you are facing on your way to join Army?”
“I do not have enough sports equipment. Still, I am getting the best I could from Prerana. We are taught self-safety there and I am learning kick-boxing, too, there.”
“What are your future plans for studies?”
“After 10th, I will take up a job and help my mother with her expenses. I will continue my studies simultaneously. I will also keep myself physically fit to join the ‘military’.”
#littlehumans #LittleHumansofFalkland

Sunil wants to take his mother and leave the red-light area he lives in. Besides growing up and joining the Army, his larger aspiration is not just to serve the country, but help children and women in the dark alleys of red-light areas of Mumbai.


“What do you dream of being when you grow up?”
“I dream of being part of the police force.”
“Because they do a great job. My mother also wants me to join the police.”
“But many of your friends in red-light area complain about them.”
“Not all policewaley (police personnel) are bad. They do talk kindly to children. So far, all policemen have talked properly with me.”
“What will you do for the red-light area if you join the police force?”
“I will help all the women in the red-light area to come out of there. I will also arrange a hostel for children who beg. Mai Prerana key jaisa kaam karoongi. Mai rishwat kabhi nahi loongi. (I will do the kind of work Prerana does. I will never accept bribe.)”
“What is the drive behind your dream?”
“I don’t like to see women standing in the red-light area. I also don’t like it when I see small children begging. Mai padti hoon toh chahti hoon wo bhi paden. (Like how I have got an opportunity to study, I wish other children, too, get to study.)”
#littlehumans #LittleHumansofFalkland

Fourteen-year-old Arpita has been with Prerana ever since she was nine. In her five years with the organization, she has grown up to be a confident girl. A child from the red-light area of Falkland Road, Arpita is ready to tread a path she believes would help women and children out of the area.


“What do you love doing the most?”
“I love dancing and singing. I want to become a singer and a dancer.”
“And why do you want to become a singer?”
“I see famous singers perform on TV. I want to reach there. I simply love singing.”
“Who is your favourite singer?”
“Neha Kakkar. She sings all kind of Bollywood songs.”
“What brings interested in dancing?”
“An Prerana, we are taught very good dancing. I have been part of the activity since the past many years. I know if I continue to practise, I will grow up to be a confident dancer.”
“How do you plan to help your friends in the red-light area with your skills?”
“When I grow up and perform abroad, I will share with Prerana whatever I earn. I will also help the women and children of red-light areas.”
#littlehumans #LittleHumansofFalkland

Ten-year-old Mansi is extremely creative. In her four years with Prerana, she has become the focus of her singing club’s attention. She says she dreams of making a mark by pursuing her dreams of singing and dancing. No wonder, she is one among the eight kids to perform in an event in Canada next year.