“Do you have the time?”
In the world of Tram 83, young girls are struggling to support themselves and their families. They have been forced into sex work at an age where they should be playing and using their vivid imaginations to picture far off places. These girls are so common they receive the name “baby chicks”–these are children. There is an extreme loss of innocence present: instead of playing tag with their friends, these girls are chasing after men who will sleep with them.
“Baby chicks were girls aged 12 to 15 who prostitute themselves in quarries” (57). At age twelve, I was still in fifth grade. I can remember running around the green hills of my school with my friends, pretending we were wild horses. We would sit beneath the curving slides and rub our heads on them in order to spike up our hair and share a laugh. My life revolved around Disney movies and virtual pets online.
Photo Credit: Cards for Change
These children’s lives revolve around having sexual relations with men double, triple their ages. They have to live in fear that each day, they might be kidnapped and killed because of their line of work. They may not know where their next meal is coming from, or when the next time they make money will be. They may have starving families to look after, or may even be starving themselves. Baby chicks have been put in a situation where they must grow up quickly.
I wish I could say that I see my self in these young women, these girls’ who have endangered themselves for the sake of being fed. But I had a good childhood, and never had to think of matters regarding my safety until my teen years. This are the belly politics that we see all throughout Tram 83, this is one of many messages we are meant to see.
These women must fight for their survival, they must loose their innocence at such a young age to sex driven men, and this is normal for them–because this is their lives. This difference between them and I is perhaps one of the strongest messages in the story–it serves as a learning instance, a reflectory piece.
And even after reading this novel, I still hear in my head, like a cry for help: “Do you have the time?”