The Definition of Courageous

The definition of courageous is “not deterred by danger or pain; brave”.

I met a truly “courageous” person when I traveled to New Delhi, India during the summer of 2011.

Her name was Surinder Kaur

I was there to help raise awareness and money towards fighting human trafficking.
Specifically, underage sex trafficking.

She was there to stop underage sex trafficking even if it meant giving up her life.

Human trafficking has become the third largest illegal trade in the world, behind illegal arms and drugs.

In New Delhi sex trafficking is a growing industry where young girls are being held as slaves to make huge amounts of money for brothel owners.

It is an atrocity that is hard to describe.
It is an injustice that many are still ignoring.

Underage girls being sold into prostitution because of poverty, greed and pure evilness.
The younger the girl, the more money they make for the brothel.

I took a photographer with me and walked through New Delhi’s largest red light district—G.B. Road–home to over 2000 prostitutes, many who are underage.

While walking the road you can look up and see young teenage girls beckoning you up to their rooms, hoping for business, hoping to suffice the anger of their madams when business is slow.

Many of the young girls were holding babies.

It was the most emotionally nauseating walk I have ever made. The spiritual darkness was so heavy it was hard to breath.

Seeing western business men and local men in their forties, fifties and sixties walking into those buildings made me want to throw up.

There was an impulse to grab them, shake them and ask them if they were proud of what they were doing.

My guide could tell how much I was disturbed and told me to pray. Pray for the girls. Pray for the police. Pray for India.

After the devastating walk, my photographer and I met this woman of courage, Surinder Kaur.

She was the local police chief, known as a Station House Officer, and she was new to the area. She had just received the International CNN Hero of the Year Award for fighting sex trafficking.

Her first impression was that of beauty and grace, not of tenacity and courage. But we soon learned that those things are very powerful together.

As we sat down in her office, she told us that the police station she was now in charge of had existed since 1954 and the police chiefs over the years had been men who were bought off by the brothel owners.

Surinder was the second woman police chief and while the first one was intimated to fight, she said this was why God had created her, to fight injustice, to stand up for children.

She had set up a make shift bedroom attached to her office so she could be on call for these girls.

“I do not want any underage girls working here. They are children. My goal is to shut this district down.” Kaur told us.

Since becoming officer in charge of G.B. Road two years ago, Kaur has rescued over 100 minor girls. Before she was there, only 4 or 5 girls had ever been rescued over the previous 5 decades.

She told us that, “In the past, everyone knew the police were involved with the brothel owners…so no one passed information to the police. When I got here, I took the challenge. I developed trust with the public. Now we are working together.”

She went on to say, “It is an everyday challenge filled with physical danger, death threats and wondering who has taken a bribe and who can you trust. The hard part is that it is not illegal for women 18 and older to be prostitutes, but many are underage and most are illegally trafficked from other parts of India and Bangladesh and Nepal. My focus is minor girls. My mission is to rescue them all.”

A few weeks before we arrived, Kaur and her team had raided a brothel on G.B. Road after being tipped off that minors were working there. They rescued 9 girls. 5 were under age, one was 10 years old.

Since the 2 years Kaur has been working the G.B. Road, they have arrested 27 brothel owners, a number unheard of before she arrived.

Some good news on this very dark subject is that rescue efforts are becoming more common in India as awareness goes up and police make them a priority.

Books like “Half the Sky” are raising awareness about human trafficking. @half @NickKristof
An organization like International Justice Mission is rescuing children all around the world. @IJMHQ @garyhaugen

The police have also become more sensitized toward prostitutes and are now seeing girls as victims rather than criminals.

Kaur told us, “Why would a girl want to be rescued and then prosecuted as a criminal. That is why girls won’t reveal their real age. Once they know that they will be treated as a victim, they are much more willing to be honest about their age.”

Just before our time was done, Surinder told me something that made me smile, while putting a chill down my spine,

“When I started here at the G.B. Road station, I went to all the brothels and told the madams that I wanted to talk to the girls. I told the madams that they could stay in the room while I talked.”

Then Surinder Kaur, this beautiful, 50-something Indian woman looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Ken, I put my phone number up on all the walls and told the girls that if they wanted to get out to call me and I would get them out immediately. And then I looked at the madams and told them, ‘And if you take my number off the wall, I will kill you.’”

Looking into her eyes, I believed her.

“Rescuing children has become my life’s calling,” Kaur told us, “It is this century’s demand that we have to change.”

Sadly, since my visit, Surinder Kaur has been transferred to another area of town, far away from the G.B. Road.

Hmm? I wonder why?

Courageous: “not deterred by danger or pain; brave”

10 thoughts on “The Definition of Courageous

  1. Keep praying for heroes to be courageous and make a change in Delhi! I heard IJM now has an office in Delhi – that is a true answer to prayer. They are just setting it up. I also heard that all the police who have taken girls to Courage Homes, which is now about 26 girls, have been really good police, taking care of the girls and ensuring they are protected. Keep praying!

    • Thank you Kim for leading the way in this. You have always said that raising awareness leads to change. And it is beginning to happen. But we have a long ways to go. You are my hero!

  2. That was a sad but very hopeful blog. I am so proud of our Church taking such a strong stand against this evil against our young girls. This woman Surinder, is amazing I will pray for her protection. This is a subject people need to be aware of! It is bigger than people realize. greed can ruin so many and destroy so many lives. God bless you for your passion!

  3. I couldn’t help but notice how close Surinder’s name resembles the word surrnender, and how she has surrendered her life to Gods will, and is continuing to every day. God bless her, I pray faith and protection on her heart.

    Thank you Ken for sharing this story that gives a young girl a sense of perspective.

    Gods blessings and love,

  4. Thank you for sharing this sad but couragious post with us. We will be praying for the girls and rescuers of India!

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