“When a man is out of a job and broke, he is flat on his back. His appetites, his desires cry out for satisfaction exactly as they did when he had money in his pockets to pay for satisfaction of these appetites and these desires.” ~ Women As Sex Vendors…. (2009).
|This article is focused on a true story of sex workers at red light areas of Mumbai. It is written on the request of NGOs, which are working for the prevention of HIV with the support of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. It is mainly divided in two parts, Part-1 is written about 12 Bollywood movies, which made on the life of prostitutes and Part-2 is based on real life of Kamathipura based Sex Workers.|
Since the time of 1924 in British era, Kamathipura has been catching the attention of Bollywood movies and all the stories related to there. This is the oldest red light district in Asia, where girls have been trafficked for prostitution straight from the poorest regions of India including Bangladesh. They are inebriated to serve customers by using their body as a sex machine with cultural armour of ‘Sari, Sindur and Mangalsutra’.
You may have a question that when our government can make metro rail and smart city kinds of huge investment projects, then why don’t they shut the Red Light areas? As we all knew, right from the ancient time, many of social norms and institutions have been developed in accordance with our basic needs in different societies. The backbone of all of these is known as the institution of marriage, which play pivot role to maintain an ideal social structure. But in practical terms, this is also designed as per principles of economics in order to meet basic human needs. In simple words, the unequal proportion of demand and supply of sex and a conservative culture are the main factors behind the business of prostitution. Today it has visible presence across the world, hardly any place is leftover, where this stealthy business is not running.
This story is based on journey of a social worker. By reading this, you will be able to recall a few of the above mentioned Bollywood Movies, those are engaged in business of selling the spicy stories of prostitutes, which hardly given a birth to any social workers or politicians, who can take-up issues of Red Light areas. Due to which the issues of their interest are covered for entertainments purpose only.
This is not a usual story of a fancy model or actress born out of Kamathipura, but it belongs to a social worker, who completed her journey of ‘Belgaum to Bombay’ via this red light street of Kamathipura.
Devita is the name of a sentimental girl, who was born in a remote village of Karnataka. Due to persistence of poverty in her family, she becomes a drop-out from primary school and forced to get married at
the age of 14. She happily bear the burnt of this ill-practice of her society by assuming it as her fortune like an ordinary Indian girl. In the next three years, she gave birth to three children and after the sudden demise of her husband, at the age of 20, she got trapped by a trafficking gang.
Being a victim of trafficking due to the financial downturn of family, Devita itself sold out by her cousin sister based in Mumbai and she spent next 5 years as a slaved sex worker in a small dungeons dormitory of brothel.
Millennium Year (2000) remembered for many good things as well as draw attention on some bad things. In the same year, when Devita was forced into prostitution, she started to earn ₹3000 – ₹5000 on daily basis, which used to taken away by landlady of brothel. And in return, she received an imprisoned life in a dungeons dormitory of brothel. It lasted for 5 years. And then one day with the help of a customer, she claimed for some part of her daily earnings and started to receive it.
HIV Positive (AIDS) and Turning Point:
Influenced by AIDS campaign during the monsoon season in 2006, a well to do customer offered HIV test to Devita (25) and her friend Shehnaz (17). Due to ignorance at that time, they were not aware about consequences of HIV infection. In the medical test, Shehnaz identified positive, Devita got negative and strict advice was given to them for using condoms.
Shehnaz, who was infected with HIV, was thrown out from brothel and her health was deteriorating every day. Being forced by circumstance, Shehnaz, sustained her life for next few months by begging at the VT Railway Station in downtown.
At that time, the greedy landlady of brothel had forced to all 25 girls living there for unprotected sex with customers. Due to which 4 of these girls also became victims of HIV infection and they had sent back to their native place by overnight.
This incident brought a turning point for Devita and she decided to leave prostitution forever and to work for helpless sex workers. Initially, she joined a local NGO as a volunteer.
Devita said that in her 11 years old career of social work, she worked for empowerment of thousands of sex workers. She helps to group members for creating Identity card and opening bank account as well as in treatment of sexual health problem. In some cases, other than adoption process, she had also played an important role in admission in to orphanage of children born with unintended pregnancy.
Further, she would like to make a shelter home for HIV-infected sex workers because she has discovered that no institution or government department is taking responsibility of the discarded sex workers in the event of sickness. In case of an accidental death or prolonged illness, no person or organization except the police can be seen at sight.
Today, the modern communication technology and smart phones have completely changed the sex market of Mumbai. According to social troops deployed in these areas, approximately 85 to 90 percent of sex workers use WhatsApp and YouTube on their smart phones. Exploited by the pimps, some have learned to create their online profiles and share video clips at social media. Now days, they are financially literate and 99 percent of the sex workers have got their own personal bank account i.e. opened with the help of local NGOs.