An Untold Story: Sheema Di, A Commercial Sex Worker

Posted on September 9, 2011 in Society

By Anonna Dutt:

Kolkata — a city of dreams… a place where the unthinkable happens… or so she had thought.

She was taught since childhood – A daughter does not belong to the house she is born. A woman is meant to serve her husband and his family. This was what she had come to believe and at a tender age of eight she was married off to the son of a neighbour. She had not even experienced life as yet. She lived in her own small world in the small village — she had never gone out of it. She never had anyone to talk to. The only thing that she knew was that she had to do the household chores every day.

The image is not that of Sheema Di - it is a pictorial representation on how sex workers live.

In the form of a neighbour’s marriage, she finally managed to find a friend. The new bride was of approximately her age but had seen a lot more of the world. She would tell Sheema Di about the various adventures she had as a kid. She wove a magical world for Sheema Di. She told her the tales of Kolkata. And to Sheema Di Kolkata was just a city of dreams… a place where the unthinkable happened.

After some time, when she was not able to contain her desires any more, she told her friend that she wanted to go to Kolkata; she wanted to visit her magical world. This took her friend by surprise but she agreed to take her anyways. They plotted to run away from their homes. And they eventually succeeded in doing so.

They reached Kolkata! Once there, they did not have any idea what to do. Sheema Di’s friend used to live in Kolkata and knew that they could earn easy money in the Red Light Areas. She took Sheema Di there. To satisfy her hunger Sheema Di took the biggest decision of her life, she became a sex worker. The unthinkable did happen in Kolkata!

Now, at the age of 60 when asked whether she regrets her decision, she answers with a mixed emotion. According to her, that single decision changed her entire life and now where ever she goes she is tagged as a sex worker. But, had she not taken the decision she would never have witnessed a world beyond her own village. She thinks that the decision might have brought her to a lower rung in the society but has made her grow as a person. She is not ashamed to say that she is a Sex Worker.

The story is that of a real commercial sex worker. Sheema di (named changed) is one of those millions of sex workers who struggle to find a space for themselves in the societal norms that denounce them because of their profession. Youth Ki Awaaz has taken a stand to present voices of these unheard sex workers. Do drop in your views below. Check out the rest of the coverage here.