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Indian 'prostitute village' marries girls to end flesh trade

Amit Dave / Reuters

Boys from the Saraniya community wearing turbans sit next to their sisters before the start of their engagement ceremony at Vadia village in the western Indian state of Gujarat March 11. The Vadia village in western India hosted a mass wedding and engagement ceremony of 21 girls on Sunday aimed at breaking a tradition of prostitution which has for centuries exploited women of a poor, marginalised and once nomadic community in the region.

Amit Dave / Reuters

A veiled girl from the Saraniya community waits for her engagement ceremony to start at Vadia village in the western Indian state of Gujarat, March 11.

Hundreds of guests from surrounding villages and government officials gathered at the colorful event, which saw eight couples married and 13 others engaged in a huge marquee in Wadia village, 115 km (70 miles) west of Palanpur city in India's Gujarat state.

"Prostitution is a tradition which this community adopted for ages and it has been very normal for them. They did not think they were doing anything wrong. But it is uncivilized, indecent," said Vijay Bhatt, development officer for Banaskantha district, which Wadia village is part of.

"By marrying and engaging these girls we have been able to break this culture. Once a girl is married, she is out of the profession. Once she is even engaged, she is out of this nexus."

-- Reported by Reuters

Amit Dave / Reuters

Boys and girls from the Saraniya community wearing garlands pose for pictures after their engagement ceremony at Vadia village in the western Indian state of Gujarat March 11.