Social evils such as illiteracy, poverty and unemployment have been forcing people across India into professions they really abhor. One such inhuman profession, which can be termed as the ‘sorrow of the country’ and many countries alike, is prostitution. Many young girls belonging to under-privileged families from rural settings have been forcing themselves into trading their bodies for cash to support their families, in a bid to make ends meet. Thousands of sex workers lead the lives of slaves belonging to the medieval ages, in a country which has often been hailed as the world’s biggest democracy. For instance, women in large brothels are even caged. Many of them have been tricked by pimps, who promise them of jobs and push them into a world which is nothing short of hell. Many documentary filmmakers and sections of the media have tried to showcase the plight of these sex workers though their work but since prostitution, being one of the oldest professions propelled by the perversion of this race, their struggle still continues and it is a long short from curbing this dignity-stealing profession of the desperate. Here’s just a pinch of how sex workers lead their lives in some of the biggest red-light regions of the country.
1. Sonagachi , Kolkata
Known as the biggest red-light region in the whole of Asia, Sonagachi is situated in the historic Kolkata city. The place is known for its chaotic multi-storey, shabby looking brothels, with dingy rooms. This red light area is inhabited by more than 10000 sex workers. These prostitutes are mostly girls trafficked from different parts of the country and some even belong to the neighboring nations of Nepal, Bhutan as well as Bangladesh. The accommodation provided for these sex workers are congested compartments which seem more like shoeboxes. The life at Sonagachi has been a subject of great interest to filmmakers who have even brought out the sad plight of the sex workers of these brothels through their documentaries. One such movie which revolved around the lives of Sonagachi’s women and their children was ‘Born Into Brothels: Kolkata’s Red Light Kids,’ which even went on to win the prestigious academy award.
2. Meergunj, Allahabad
Meergunj, which is known for being the birthplace of former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, is also infamous for its brothel which houses innumerable women who survive by the flesh trade. Girls belonging to the states of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar constitute the majority of the sex workers at the brothels of Meergunj, which are just 3-kilometers away from the holy city of Allahabad. Although many politicians and influential individuals from the state of Uttar Pradesh tried to eradicate the sex racket in the town, none of their efforts proved to be fruitful.
3. GB Road, Delhi
Also known as Garston Bastion road, the brothels at GB Road area of the Indian capital is one of the biggest red light areas in the country. Several multi-storey buildings are located in this region, which turn into hotspots for illegal sex trading activities during the night. It is estimated that approximately 1000 sex workers reside in this region and are usually spotted during the nights. The interiors of the buildings consist of box shaped compartments which approximately measure around 4 feet to 6 feet, meant for customers. The women, who are more like sex slaves to the pimps, are forced to entertain around 6 to 7 clients in an hour. The place is also considered highly unsafe, since incidents of many commuters being robbed on this road, have been reported.
4. Kamathipura, Mumbai
Well within the interiors of hustling-bustling Mumbai, one of the largest metropolitan cities of India lies a region, which is considered one of the greatest hubs of flesh trade in the whole of Asia. This red light district has existed since the era of British rule in the country. According to a survey conducted in the early 1990’s, this red light area was then occupied by more than 50,000 sex workers. However, during the early 2000s, the number saw a sharp decline and now only a little more than a thousand prostitutes operate in the area, whereas the rest have migrated to other parts of Maharashtra. Another surprising fact about this is that many women even survive by making Beedis, a form of cigarettes, in a small factory in this area. It is said that dreaded underworld fugitives like Dawood Ibrahim were once regulars at this red light area.
5. Shivadaspur, Varanasi
Varanasi, a famous pilgrimage center located in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, also has a dark side to it. The infamous flesh trade business has raised its ugly head at the Shivadaspur town in this district. Although prostitution is not as full-fledged as other places in India like Sonagachi and Kamathipura, a few houses in the town are informally offering escort services at economic prices. When compared to the rest of Varanasi, Shivadaspur has been relatively under-developed and political leaders refrain from entering the area or looking into its concerns. Although the people from the town, mainly those belonging to the flesh business, have been regular voters, politicians have never really bothered addressing this grave concern.
6. Ganga Jamuna, Nagpur
An area inhabited by 3000 sex workers, most of whom have been forced into flesh trade, Ganga Jamuna is considered to be the curse of Nagpur. This brothel has apparently existed in Nagpur district since more than a hundred years. The authorities have failed to curb prostitution in the area, since many women were rescued but not rehabilitated in a way that they earn a regular income. In addition, the streets and other forms of public infrastructure in the area have been greatly neglected by the authorities. This red light area looks quite filthy, which is sufficient evidence for one to assume the state of sex workers here.
7. Chaturbhujsthan, Muzaffarpur
This town, the name of which is derived from a famous shrine in its vicinity, is home to more than 540 families. Most residents of this village, especially women have forced themselves into selling their bodies to earn a few bucks to make ends meet. Social problems such as illiteracy and unemployment, has been prevailing in this town since decades, which is another reason behind the rampant sex trade culture in Chaturbhujsthan.
8. Budhwar Peth, Pune
The Budhwar Peth red light area is known to be the third biggest sex trade market in the entire country today. It is estimated that more than five thousand women living in the area, earn their bread by forcing themselves into prostitution. Ironically, a Lord Ganesha temple is also situated amidst these prostitute outlets and it’s believed that the shrine is the richest of all Ganapati temples in the country.
9. Khakranagla, Rajasthan
Approximately 20 to 30 kilometers away from the Bharatpur bird sanctuary is a sleepy village named Khakranagala, where prosititution has been a tradition and has existed for years. According to an age-old myth, intercourse with the young girls from the region has the ability to cure men of their ailments. Hence, many virgin girls from the region are being traded for lakhs of rupees to pimps from metro cities, thus forcing many innocent souls to lead a life they abhor.