Mon, 19 Apr 2021

Sonagachi sex workers express discontent

25 Feb 2021, 19:55 GMT+10

By Joymala BagchiKolkata (West Bengal) [India], February 25 (ANI): As the entire state is gearing up to brace for 2021 Assembly elections very soon, the sex workers residing in dingy lanes of Sonagachi -- Asia's oldest and largest red-light area -- are not very hopeful for some tectonic shift in their lives.

Situation in Kolkata, this red-light district has a population of more than 12,000 people.

Sex workers here are struggling each day to meet their and family's minimum daily expenses. Situation especially deteriorated since last year after pandemic struck the country.

Speaking to ANI people from Sonagachi mostly said several elections went by and nothing ever changed for them. They expect nothing as they have never received anything from leaders nor from any political shelters and therefore have decided not to get cheated by fancy words.

Aparajita Choudhury staying in Sonagachi since 1991 said with confidence, "How can we expect from them who never fulfilled what we hoped for? Vote is my personal right and won't let it go off for any undeserving candidate rather would press NOTA."Choudhury during the interaction informed that during lockdown a leader have asked them to make a list of names for getting ration. They enlisted 6,000 names within less than a week yet no ration ever reached them.

There are 8,000 brothels and more than 4,000 flyers (sex workers who do not stay there) in Sonagachhi.

"Political leaders come to us for their interest not for us or our interest. Nobody stands with us. We do not get anything from leaders," said Seema Phokla, a sex worker in Sonagachi.

Dr. S Jana, DirectorChief Advisor, Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC) said, "After hearing words of hope if they see nothing is changing then disappointment is obvious. The politicians do come to them only once, that is, during the elections."DMSC is an NGO that work for the social upliftment of the sex workers in Sonagachi.

Bishakha Noshkar, a sex worker, who associated herself with DMSC, said this time they will not allow any political party to cheat them by pseudo promises.

"We are also a citizen of this country. We will definitely utilise our right to vote, however, this time we will not allow any political parties to cheat us by pseudo promises. We donot get a helping hand when we actually need them," Bishakha said citing their sufferings during lockdown.

"Nobody looks at us properly. Even today, even after so much fight nobody accept us. Sex workers are looked down upon. If we were accepted in the society, we could have got what we should get atleast as a citizen. We went door-to-door seeking a little help and in return we received nothing," she said.

The atmosphere inside Sonagachhi is that of frustration and discontent that built up over years of rhetoric and false assurances and it is perceptible in every corner of this area.

Another sex worker Shefali told ANI, "We are 12,000 in number, which is alluring for any political party, but have you ever seen them speaking about us in Parliament? Sweet words by leaders last only till we press the party symbol in voting machines."Sex workers at large said they expect nothing as they have always stood up for themselves when required and neither leaders nor political sheltering helped them ever. Few also said they will vote for NOTA as they feel it is the best way. (ANI)

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