Earlier this year, sex workers in Sonagachi, Asia’s largest red light area, were denied permission by various authorities to publicly organise Durga Puja in Kolkata.
It reminded me of the documentary, “Tales Of The Night Fairies” that I had discovered in film school back in the day, which gave me a visual and academic insight into debates around sex work through the personal stories of sex workers in Sonagachi.
“The film attempts to represent the struggles and aspirations of thousands of sex workers who constitute the DMSC (Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee or the Durbar Women’s Collaborative Committee) an initiative that emerged from the Shonagachi HIV/AIDS Intervention Project. A collective of men, women and transgender sex workers, DMSC demands decriminalisation of adult sex work and the right to form a trade union. Tales of the Night Fairies (74-min) was completed in November 2002 and had its first public screening on January 28, 2003,” reads its YouTube description.
The DMSC first attempted to organise Durga Puja in 2013 and its attempts to do so have repeatedly faced obstruction over the years from the authorities in charge and it reflects the fact that still so much has to be done to raise awareness about the plight of sex workers and to mobilise and demand equal rights for them.
I highly recommend “Tales Of The Night Fairies” to get an evolved understanding of the issue.