EXCLUSIVE: The Sex Worker’s Told There Real Life In Mumbai – Kamathipura!

0
161

In south Mumbai’s red light districts there are an estimated 100,000 brothel-based sex workers. Most of them are not there voluntarily. A high proportion of the women and girls have been sold into sex work, often by a relative or a trusted family friend; others are born into it.

Kamathipura (also spelled Kamthipuram) is a neighbourhood in Mumbai, India. It was first settled after 1795 with the construction of causeways that connected the erstwhile seven islands of Bombay. Initially known as Lal Bazaar, it got its name from the Kamathis (workers) of other areas of the country, who were labourers on construction sites. Due to tough police , in the late 1990s with the rise of AIDS and government’s redevelopment policy that helped sex workers to move out of the profession and subsequently out of Kamathipura, the number of sex workers in the area has dwindled. In 1992, Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC) recorded there were 50,000 sex workers here which was reduced to 1,600 in 2009, with many sex workers migrating to other areas in Maharashtra and real estate developers taking over the high-priced real estate.

Being the oldest prostitutes area in south Mumbai since 1795 , Kamathipura once had 50,000 sex workers during 1992, now hardly have 500 of such workers seen standing at street side in dresses as seen in pictures above. The drastic reduction in numbers is due to the frequent raids by Mumbai police for betterment. When one drives through the lanes which is also called ‘Falkland Road’ the view is obvious and some what not so pleasant when with family. It is also heard that they do this professional business with license allotted individually to few. ‘Lal bazaar’ was once tagged as ‘Tolerated Area’ since prostitution was illegal during that era.

Life within the red light districts is incredibly difficult. Poverty, drug and alcohol addiction, gambling and violence are an everyday reality. These women live on the edge of society, frowned upon and ignored. It is estimated that between 30 and 50 percent of India’s sex workers are HIV positive. Due to a lack of education and severe poverty, many of them continue to have unprotected sex.

I am Nijila, a 32-yr-old sex worker based at Kamathipura in Mumbai.I am originally from Nepal. They say, love gets you heaven but in my case, I got Kamathipura, where sex costs little. I ran away from my home in Nepal trusting the man I loved so much. However, he ditched me and sold me and ran away. Of course, I was tricked into prostitution.

Poverty was not the reason for me to enter prostitution. Rather it was blind love. At 23, I landed at Kamathipura and was repeatedly gangraped before becoming a branded prostitute.

Leave prostitution? Well, there is nothing else in my life. I am a prostitute and prostitution is my job. There is no other option for me in this life. May be it is the sins of my past life. But it’s ok now. No complains. At least, I am not a burden on anyone. I can take care of myself and don’t have to look up to my family for survival. I won’t leave Kamathipura till I die.

Our day starts a bit late and depends more on the number of customers we attend. I get Rs 450 for a session. The amount is bigger for the whole night. A portion is handed to the madam and pimp. Even the police get their share. Customers are our only connect to the outside world. There are customers I have known for years and I love them but now I don’t love like that.

Did you know that Kamathipura was set up 200 years ago for British men who wanted some sexual comforts while they were away from home?

The sex workers are made to live in small blocks. Did you know that Kamathipura is divided roughly into 14 lanes which are further divided according to regional and linguistic backgrounds of the sex workers?

Many organizations work in Kamatipura, dealing with aspects like rescue of minors, health awareness and treatment with special focus on AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, providing counseling services, de-addiction programs, skill development and training, etc. Some organizations help in taking care of the children of the workers by providing full-time care, protection and education through the day/night care shelters or residential homes away from the red-light area.

I wear my best clothes and make-up and stand on the streets of Kamathipura. We pose, smile and wave to lure our customers. Several NGOs work for us. Through them only I got to know about the dangers of HIV/AIDS. And now I don’t entertain a customer if he refuses to wear condoms. Frankly speaking, I have no idea what legalisation means. But if it helps in stopping minors from coming to flesh trade, then it should be done without any delay.

Hajra Shah

“When I was 13 I came to Bombay, to Faulkland Road. I used to live in Chennai with my grandmother, but my parents lived in Mumbai. My mother brought me to Bombay by force and married me to a man. He was about 30. A violent person. I tried to escape from this husband. I wanted to go back to Chennai, so I escaped.

Jyoti

“I grew up in Mumbai, and living here I have seen the hard and horrible life. This life is nothing, a waste of a life. We do all this for very little money, just to survive. I am Devdesi [a woman sold to a religious institution as a prostitute], so I cannot marry. But I wanted to do something to help others, to help my sisters. So I found out about SAI, went to their van and asked about working with them. Now I work as a community volunteer. I am getting respect in society, and I’m saving lives of others by teaching the risks of HIV and STIs.

The life of sex workers in Kamathipura

It is very sad to know that girls from Bangladesh and other countries are forced into drugs and other addictions. And the chilling fact is that they are being captured inside a dark room till the time they are left with no will power to fight the odds after being injected tons of drugs. Moreover, they are being provided with tablets that help them appear young and missing even a dose of this tablet makes them restless. These sex workers are forced to sleep with 5 to 8 men each night and if they refuse to have sex with them then they are brutally beaten.

Did you know that Kamathipura was set up 200 years ago for British men who wanted some sexual comforts while they were away from home?

The sex workers are made to live in small blocks. Did you know that Kamathipura is divided roughly into 14 lanes which are further divided according to regional and linguistic backgrounds of the sex workers?


“I wish someone would marry me and I have a family of my own. These men just use me for fun…no one really loves me.”