This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Law, Sex Aur Dhokha: Behind The Brothel’s Door

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Divish Gupta:

इस देश के लाखों लोग अपने फ़ैसले खुद नहीं लेते, उनके फ़ैसले ग़रीबी लेती है|

One among those millions is a lady living with her 20-25 co-workers in a workplace situated very close to New Delhi Railway Station. She is 41, working hard for the past 26 years to earn a living. Like any other mother, her dream is to ensure a better future for her children. She earns enough to provide good education to them but somehow, this is not enough. She has to constantly make efforts to keep her shadow away from them. The day she fails, all her efforts will turn into dust. Do you know why?

Because she is a sex worker at one of the brothels in G.B. Road. We call her prostitute, or a whore but she finds them objectionable. We portray her as immoral, unchaste or obscene but she disagrees. We say that such women ruin our social values but she feels that the society is responsible for ruining her past, present and future. She was married at an age of 14. Within a year, her husband sold her to a brothel for a meagre amount because her parents were not able to meet the dowry demands. Her husband told her parents that she died. They believed him. At an age when children used to play in open grounds, she was locked in a small room to serve customers.

When she was 19, she took a brave decision. With two small girls born during her time at the brothel, she decided to go back to her parents. It was not easy for her to tell truth to the parents, but she said it. To support her poor family, she started working in a farmland. In our society, powerful dominates the weak and the weak has no choice but to remain content under the suppression. It was too obvious for the farm owner that a 19 year old girl coming from Delhi with two little fatherless babies could only be a prostitute. For him, she was not a labour; she was an opportunity. He raped her. She remained silent. She had to choose between selling her body to a client and losing out her soul to this rapist. She chose the less undesirable option and came back to brothel.

She is not the only one who decides to leave the brothel but eventually comes back. In 105 brothels located at G.B. Road, there are around 5,000 sex workers who are facing the consequences of hypocrisy prevailing in our society. Once a prostitute, always a prostitute. They never had a choice. Neither to enter the sex industry nor to leave it. We put a stamp on their face and do not accept them in our society even if they are willing to keep their past behind. But why don’t we accept them? It’s not the morality. It’s our fear. Because brothels can show the true picture of the so-called social and moral values of our society. We visit those brothels in night to satisfy our needs but we can’t accept it in the daylight. Also, if you think that only uneducated labourers or such farm owners go to brothels, you are living in a utopian world. G.B. Road has plenty of customers during the lunch timings of offices in the vicinity which shows the duplicity and inequality prevailing in our society.

After coming to brothel, she gave birth to a boy. She didn’t want her children to have the same childhood as hers. She worked hard to earn money and sent her children to hostels, far away from the dark life of G. B. Road. Today, both of her daughters are married and her son is about to finish his schooling. Her daughters’ parents-in-law are unaware of her profession. The day they get to know about her work, her daughter will be facing the same situation which she did 26 years ago.

Adding to their woes, our government has done almost nothing to bring these workers out of their situation. There is a law since 1956, ITPA, to prevent trafficking. In the act, sex work is not prohibited but it penalizes specific activities related to sex work. Brothels are made illegal because they lead to trafficking but even two sex workers are not allowed to live and work together. It is obvious that a woman who is in such a vulnerable situation that she has to force herself into prostitution can never perform it individually. She is left with no other option but to enter a brothel to feed herself and her children. The laws are not encouraging her to leave the profession but to do it illegally. A sex worker is forced to hide her activities and seek security under the organization of brothels as our legal system has failed to protect her rights. This leads to more cases of sexually transmitted diseases among them and acts of unreported criminal violence.

To curb trafficking, government has made it difficult to execute sex work. But instead of keeping a check on trafficking, it has made the life of sex workers even worse. Prostitution has grown 17 times in the past 15 years. G.B. Road is completely illegal but still it runs in front of our eyes. Brothels at G.B. Road give a bribe of more than 1 million rupees to allow them to function. Traffickers are selling girls at even higher prices, buyers are still buying them, pockets of police is getting heavier in the process but no one is giving attention to 3 million sex workers in India living a life of negligence.

We gave them no rights to raise their voice against the exploitation they face. We gave them no rights to leave prostitution. We gave them no rights to demand for better working conditions. We are completely correct at our stand and we will not allow them to spread filth and dirt among us. Because they are not humans, they are prostitutes. And who are we?

हम समाज हैं| एक सभ्य समाज| जिस दिन आईने में झाँक के देखेंगे, उस दिन खुद पे शर्म आएगी| लेकिन हम आँखों पे पर्दा डालके आराम से बैठे रहेंगे| आख़िर हम समाज हैं|

 

This article is based on the interviews that the writer had during his research internship in Centre for Civil Society on economics of sex workers at G.B. Road. He is thankful to the organization for bringing him closer to the reality and to the sex workers and brothel owners for greeting him so well.

P.S.: Everything is grey in this world. Upcoming posts will expose you to different colours of their life.

[box bg=”#fdf78c” color=”#000″]About the author: Divish Gupta is a student of Electrical Engineering in IIT Delhi. He is passionate about travelling, meeting strangers, photography and dramatics. He has keen interest in sustainable socio-economic development of underprivileged communities and sees his future in it. He strongly believes in the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” .[/box]

 

 

You must be to comment.
  1. mridula

    its vry tru..u displyd d tru image..i olwys wntd to do sumthng fr dm so dt dy r free frm d cluthes f dse ppl whu uses dm n ltr don accept dm as a prt f society..it z vry sad to knw dt dy dont get jobs too..n society eyes dm as dy r d aliens…

  2. sajal agarwal

    awesome work bhai !!!

    1. Divish Gupta

      Thanks. I hope I was able to convey the correct message. 🙂

    2. Ajay Singh

      It sad to face such things i.e. Prostitution is a horrible face of our society there should be execution of law in this direction to cchange our social outlook. And Society should come forward to help them and bring in the main streame of our society.

  3. TM

    “It was too obvious for the farm owner that a 19 year old girl coming from Delhi with two little fatherless babies could only be a prostitute.”

    You could have framed this better-it is not obvious,various number of circumstances could have led to a 19 year old having 2 “fatherless” babies.
    It was the rapist’s perspective but you could have put it in a more cogent fashion rather than bordering on stereotyping.

    1. Divish Gupta

      The intention was to focus on the fact that society finds them very vulnerable and thus try to exploit them. Apologies for wrong usage of words.

  4. balu

    BRILLIANTLY NARRATED

  5. Simrat Ahluwalia

    Divish thoda dramatized type but written very well 🙂

    1. Divish Gupta

      Maybe dramatized but still true. Thanks. 🙂

  6. Ritu

    The picture that you used here, has nothing to do with your content. Than why use it ?

  7. Abheek Gupta

    beautifully scripted. Yes, I sometimes laugh on myself and the society I am in. Your article raises a very rational question that must be answered, “Who is unchaste?”

  8. Mythbuster007

    Prostitution is an evil which has unfortunately become deeply embedded in the nation’s social fabric…..Not only formulation, but proper implementation and execution of laws in this direction…and more importantly a total change of our social outlook towards it….is required to eradicate it completely……

  9. jeeka krishna

    Simply awesome..! i think the real culprits are not the prostitutes…but those people who put them in such situations..

  10. vishalbheeroo

    Insightful, It’s high time we pull the veil of hypocrisy. Sex workers is not a bane to society and its high time to accept that the sex industry is an important economic pillar. Laws must be implemented to ensure that sex workers are not exploited and they are given equal rights.
    Vishal
    http://www.vishalbheeroo.wordpres.com

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Saroj Kumar Pattnaik

By Prerana

By Prerana

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below