Along the wall, other women sit on cheap plastic chairs, chatting, in a bank with an unusual mandate: It serves only prostitutes. As Sangini sees it, sex workers with even a modest financial buffer are able to refuse clients wanting unprotected sex. And savings build confidence, providing the wherewithal to change professions if they choose. Some of the women in the 14 narrow lanes specialize in working early, catering to overnight truckers, while others prefer handling the evening crowds. Most of the lanes are packed with four- and five-story buildings filled with byfoot rooms, each with up to four beds.
Seems strange, but when you think about the high social space concubines occupied in the old days, it all starts to make sense. Standard editorial rights. Times News Platforms. Road in New Delhithat host thousands of sex workers. Retrieved 28 November Prostitution in the country of India.
Nifty lesbian storis. 1. Sonagachi, Kolkata
The life of these sex worker are like hell and many documentary and movies are made on their day to day life.
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- DESIblitz explores the Indian cities where red light areas and sex workers are in high demand.
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The Mughal Era is frequently cited in discussion of early evidence of prostitution in India. Yet the precarious trade can be traced back even before this; affluent members of society requesting women to sing and dance to compete for position of Nagarvadhu ; a highly valued spot where the preferred woman would be granted the luxuries of royals, though her duties were limited to fulfilling sexual needs of lords, kings and princes.
She resided in the prehistoric town of Vaishali modern-day Northern Bihar and is quite possibly the first recorded courtesan in Indian history. However, British East India Company, a joint stock company formed to pursue trade in South East Asia, introduced a more contemporary concept of prostitution. And for satisfying the desires of British soldiers residing in India whilst their wives anxiously anticipated their arrival in England.
Across the country, there are eight sites in particular which earn their status as red light areas:. The capital of West Bengal, the bustling metropolis of Kolkata is home to the largest red light district in India, and one of the biggest across the Asian continent.
About a kilometre away from the infamous 19th century built Marble Palace, an estimated 14, women earn their living through sex work.
Of course, an inevitable consequence of increased sex is the increased risk of disease. The Sonagachi Project, founded in by Public Health Scientist Smarajit Jana, now predominantly run by prostitutes empowers sex workers to insist on condom use and to speak up against abuse.
Ironically, not far from the holy site is the red light area of Budhwar Peth, which is said to be the third largest red light district in India, bearing over 5, sex workers. It garners its fame from its several hundred brothels, a hotspot for over 1, sex workers. Amongst the most populous state of northern India, Uttar Pradesh, lies the animated town of Allahabad.
Noted for captivating visitors with its cultural, historical and religious tourism, the lively city of Meerganj has also drawn much attention for its frequent occurrence of illegal trafficking and forced prostitution. Home to approximately 2, sex workers, many of which are underage and forced into the trade. The craft of the sex business is not only immoral but often sustained by corrupt police authorities, who have contributed to the implementation of brothels.
In the Indian state of Maharashtra, Nagpur is the third largest city which is notorious not only for its red light area in Ganga Jamuna but also for its growing rate of criminal activity. In , local police conducted 35 raids in the space of 3 months, in stark contrast with a total of only 5 raids across the whole of The biggest red light district in North Bihar, it was this region where Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay met Saraswati and wrote his successful novel turned film, Devdas.
Prostitutes are portrayed as women of loose morals. Yet, not a single consideration is made to the perilous journey which lures them to their destination.
Red Light Districts in The Major Indian Cities
Hoping to protect women from sexual exploitation , Indian lawmakers are pushing a bill that amends the criminal code to harden legal and financial penalties for sex trafficking.
According to the Indian government, 4, victims of sex trafficking were rescued in the country in In major Indian cities like Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Sangli, sex workers are well organised and politically engaged. Yet no sex worker groups were consulted during the drafting of the legislation. Community leaders argue that the anti-trafficking legislation promotes a dangerous idea that everyone in the sex trade is either a victim or a criminal. I believe Indian lawmakers could improve their bill by looking to the strong systems already in place locally across India that prevent forced prostitution.
This bustling and congested labyrinth of narrow alleyways lined by houses, most of which operate as brothels, is home to some 10, sex workers. An estimated 20, male customers visit Sonagachi daily. Most of the women I met working in Sonagachi came from poor, rural villages in India, Bangladesh, or Nepal. Driven by increasing hunger and poverty in formerly agricultural regions, many arrived in Kolkata planning to enter the sex trade because they figured it was the best way to feed themselves and their families.
Some can even afford to send money back to their families. Other women in Sonogachi were brought there by a friend or husband, and began doing sex work because they felt they had little choice. Every morning at 10 am, peer educators and outreach workers visit area brothels. Since the board is comprised mainly of local sex workers, newcomers to Sonagachi are easily identified. Women new to the scene are taken for medical evaluation to a local health center called the Abinaash Clinic. The STD testing done there prevents the spread of disease in Sonagachi.
A bone ossification test, which gives an age range, helps identify minors. Underage sex workers are handed over to the Child Welfare Committee of Kolkata, a government agency.
Determining whether adult women newly arrived to Sonagachi have been trafficked requires a more extensive investigation. It can take days to get women to open up about how they arrived in Sonagachi and who brought them there.
Many of the women and girls approached by the Durbar are newcomers not just to sex work but to city living in general. They seldom cooperate immediately.
It can take days of gentle questioning before the women start talking. During that process, newcomers to Sonagachi are housed at the nearby Short Stay Home, a residence run by the Durbar Committee. Ultimately, those determined to have entered the sex trade willingly will be permitted to return to her brothel in Sonagachi.
The women usually become members of Durbar and are given a photo ID card that confirms her status as a healthy and consensual sex worker—which usually helps them avoid arrest when police raids occur.
If the self-regulatory board concludes that a new entrant is being coerced into sex work by a trafficker, the authorities are contacted. In my assessment, the Sonagachi method is effective because it starts by recognising that sex work is a job—one that must be done voluntarily, by consenting adults. Based on that reality, it puts in place protections that keep trafficked women and children from abuse. The Durbar Committee works closely with local police, alerting them to the presence of minors and trafficked women.
Other red light districts in India , Thailand , and beyond have sex worker unions use similar preventive measures to combat trafficking. Several lawmakers I spoke with in Kolkata during my research dismissed the efforts of Durbar. They say trafficking is rampant in Sonagachi, and that the government must step in.
In my experience, most also see prostitution as a dangerous and immoral act—something that only victims of coercion would do. As a result, the Indian anti-trafficking bill they crafted outlaws the sex trade and punishes all who participate in it. The proposed law, which includes social services for reintegrating trafficked women into society, may help some women. Organisations like the Durbar Committee cannot identify and protect all victims of sexual exploitation in India.
Still, Indian lawmakers could learn something from the frontline community organisations already doing this work. Sex workers can be government partners in the fight against human trafficking—but only if they are not its targets. Simanti Dasgupta , associate professor, University of Dayton. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article. We welcome your comments at ideas. Skip to navigation Skip to content.
Not everyone thinks harsh deterrence will work. Anti-trafficking bills hurt more than they help In my assessment, the Sonagachi method is effective because it starts by recognising that sex work is a job—one that must be done voluntarily, by consenting adults.