Kasturba Gandhi Girls School
17 Images

Hoping to break the cycle

Kasturba Gandhi Girls School

Twelve-year-old Aarti Kumari combs her hair at the Kasturba Gandhi Girls School.

 (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
Kasturba Gandhi Girls School

The girls and their math teacher, Shruti Priya, observe the Durga Puja festival that honors the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo -- hence the victory of good over evil.

 (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
Kasturba Gandhi Girls School

Neelam and Urmila, both 14, pass the time playing during the high holiday season. The girls overcome caste stigma by forming friendships that take away the boundaries of caste and class.

 (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
Kasturba Gandhi Girls School

The school girls play a game of kabaddi during recess.

 (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
Kasturba Gandhi Girls School

The girls get three meals a day at the boarding school.

 (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
Kasturba Gandhi Girls School

The girls work on homework.

 (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
Kasturba Gandhi Girls School

The girls are still vulnerable to sex traffickers who routinely prowl the outside of the school hoping to abduct them into a life of prostitution. Here two young school girls listen to men call out to them from the field, trying to get their attention.

 (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
Kasturba Gandhi Girls School

All the girls supported by Apne Aap are given photo identification to show that they are members of the group. This serves as protection when a trafficker accosts her, because he immediately knows that Apne Aap staff will follow up if she goes missing.

 (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
Kasturba Gandhi Girls School

The young girls develop strong bonds at the boarding school and have the opportunity to act carefree, a luxury most do not have in their communities.

 (Barbara Davidson/The Los Angeles Times Staff / )
Kasturba Gandhi Girls School

The girls pray together inside their communal bedroom that sleeps 20 during the five holy days of Durga Puja.

 (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
Kasturba Gandhi Girls School

A view from the roof of the boarding school, situated not from from the Indo-Nepal border town of Bihar, one of the poorest districts in India.

 (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
Twelve-year-old Karishma enjoys a shy moment laughing with her friends inside the boarding school, where she lives with some other 100 girls.
Twelve-year-old Karishma enjoys a shy moment laughing with her friends inside the boarding school, where she lives with some other 100 girls.  (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times )
Kasturba Gandhi Girls School

Rukhsar Khatun has her hair combed by a schoolmate. Rukhsar attends the school with her sister Shahana, not pictured. Their father had forced his two other daughters into prostitution, and he pulled Rukhsar and Shahana out of the school in 2011, beating their mother when she protested. Their mother ran away with the girls so she could return them to the school and now lives in a secret location.

 (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
Kasturba Gandhi Girls School

The girls observe the Durga Puja festival, which honors the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo, hence the victory of good over evil.

 (Barbara Davidson)
Kasturba Gandhi Girls School

The girls get three meals a day at the border school, which is also supported by the local government. They are served food in shifts so as to accommodate all the children fairly.

 (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
Kasturba Gandhi Girls School

Sabhyata, 12, sleeps after reading a book.

 (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
Kasturba Gandhi Girls School

Thousands of young girls in India and Nepal are sold for sex and imprisoned in urban brothels in Kolkata, New Delhi and Bombay. The girls thrive when given an education.

 (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
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