The Caravan

A Hard Place

The village of Haripipliya is set a little apart from the highway between Neemuch and Ratlam, which traces the eastern edge of Madhya Pradesh. It is difficult to distinguish it from adjacent villages along the road. Past the colourful wall of a school lies a settlement of the Bachhada, identified as a Scheduled Caste in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The village’s other castes derogatorily call the settlement a “dera.”

There, in January, I met a 26-year-old resident who made her living as a sex worker. About a year ago, after visiting a health camp at the settlement, she discovered she was HIV-positive. She has been on antiretroviral medication, distributed free of cost by the government, ever since. When we spoke, she vowed not to let her 14-year-old daughter enter the “practice.”

By May, her plans has been going out at night,” Durga Malviya, a resident of the settlement who volunteers for the NGO UDAN, said over the phone.

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