O brave new world

// 7 June 2010

Brace yourselves: you’ll need a strong stomach for this one.

Here is a story (via Womanist Musings) of girls in the Sodavas and Girvas villages of Rajasthan, many of whom are kidnapped in infancy and brought there. When aged 6-10, they are repeatedly injected with animal oxytocin to induce early puberty and feelings of trust, and then sold into the sex trade around India and even internationally to the Middle East. Reporters say that this is being described as “tradition” and has been going on for decades in the face of police neglect.

The drug in question is sold over the counter, and is otherwise used for veterinary purposes.

Reporter: We’re talking about that injection that unscrupulous farmers inject in their vegetables to make these vegetables grow faster and bigger. It’s the same injection that milkmen give to their buffaloes for increased milk production. […]

Doctor: …the growth, and all the functions of all the organs of the body will also be affected. And these people are giving it very unregulated. So it also has, in very high doses, it can affect the central nervous system also, and it can cause seizures, also it can cause pulmonary edema…

Quotes from the news videos, which you can view here. (I couldn’t understand some of the interviews in Part 4, but most of it is in English.) At one point the reporters examine the economy of the villages and conclude that they are hugely reliant on the earnings of this trade. “They cultivate absolutely nothing.”

I notice that all the interviews with villagers feature men. I wonder what the girls themselves, and any other women who live in the village, would have to say.

Update: DV in comments has suggested that oxytocin is unlikely to have the effects either on vegetables or (in terms of inducing puberty) human girls that are being claimed. I don’t have the expertise to comment on the exact effects of the injections, but there seems to be an ongoing controversy in India about farmers using oxytocin on vegetables whatever its actual consequences may be. Moreover, even if the people administering the injections to girls are wholly misinformed about what it achieves, the news interviews nevertheless seem to corroborate their activities and intentions.

Comments From You

jaded16 // Posted 8 June 2010 at 6:16 am

No women are allowed to speak because that’s how it goes in small towns. Men take charge whenever there’s any inquiry. This is a tradition we see in Indian News too unless the reporter goes out of zie’s way to make sure women get to speak.

I had the same problem with the interviews too.

arlette // Posted 8 June 2010 at 8:35 am

humans can be so cruel. how can anyone with a heart do this and live with themselves.

tomhulley // Posted 8 June 2010 at 5:09 pm

Sodavas and Girvas -Sodom and Gomorrah?

Probably not, as similar practices are global and not restricted to out-of-the-way villages.

What about pink fashions and playboy bunny logos? Likely “to induce early puberty and feelings of trust, and then sold into the sex trade”?

These practices are horrible including those in our own streets!

More practically, how can women of Rajasthan be helped? Any suggestions?

DV // Posted 8 June 2010 at 7:16 pm

The claims in this story are specious.

First of all, this neurotransmitter has no known affect on plants, so “injecting it into vegetables” wouldn’t really do anything. Secondly, this is not a hormone and would not “induce early puberty”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxytocin

Given the huge factual errors in the source material, the whole report is suspect.

Jolene Tan // Posted 8 June 2010 at 7:27 pm

tomhulley, I understand where you are coming from, and was also tempted to begin my entry with a reference to the debate about “sexualisation of girls” in Britain and being “forced to grow up too soon” in that context, but I think it’s slightly too flip to make the comparison. The degree of violence and intrusiveness in this situation in Rajasthan is just too different and I think it needs to be looked at in its own terms. I also had a look around assorted links to see what could be done but haven’t found anything, and if anyone who is more familiar with the region has suggestions they’d be welcomed.

Jolene Tan // Posted 8 June 2010 at 7:30 pm

DV, whatever the actual effects of the injection of oxyctocin, there’s no doubt there are farmers in India who believe it will aid their vegetable growth, hence there is ongoing controversy about its use:

http://www.medindia.net/news/Indian-Farmers-Injecting-Oxytocin-To-Boost-Plant-Growth-Agriculture-Ministry-Enraged-55354-1.htm

Even if they are wrong about this, and even if it’s also not the case that oxytocin induces early puberty, I’m inclined to believe the report is correct in its claims that 1) this is being injected into girls and 2) the intention is to facilitate their sale into involuntary sex work. Whether it has the intended effect or not, there are interviews with a number of villagers which appear to corroborate their activities and intentions. Watch the video.

polly // Posted 8 June 2010 at 10:25 pm

This story may not be 100% accurate but the problems of child slavery, and abuse in India are most certainly real.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/article985977.ece

It’s estimated (and again these things can only ever be estimates) that there are currently 1.2 million children being raped and abused in the sex industry in India (we wouldn’t refer to rape in other circumstances as ‘involuntary sex’ so I think it’s a bit misleading to refer to “involuntary sex work”)

http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/05/11/india.prostitution.children/index.html

This is of course a global phenomenon (there are children being similarly abused in the city where I live, and probably where you live as well) but it’s recognised that there is a particularly acute problem in India – no doubt partly because of the extreme poverty many of its people live in.

Jolene Tan // Posted 8 June 2010 at 10:33 pm

Point taken about language, Polly, I agree it’s rape; I wanted to convey also that there’s an economic exploitation element to it too.

Maeve // Posted 9 June 2010 at 11:14 am

DV, ‘specious’ should be the word that’s applied to your comment, because you are completely missing the point. Whatever the properties of oxytocin, the point is that those men have absolutely NO RIGHT to take young girls and inject them with it.

I cannot believe you don’t get that.

Kathryn // Posted 9 June 2010 at 12:15 pm

DV, to comment like that was rude.

Point is, children are being RAPED. This is more likely to be the case – and they misattribute properties to the oxytocin. But rape is likely to be happening here.

I’m also offended by the fact the economy was ever bought into question by the reporter.

only men able to speak when an investigation comes.. Wonder why that is! Any opportunity for a bit of dick swinging. Feel so sorry for the oppressed women in India.

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