A mere two kilometres from the hustle-bustle of the Mumbai Central Railway Station, lies Kamathipura – one of the oldest and biggest red-light areas in Asia. Limited to its 14 narrow lanes, women are migrated from across the country into matchbox-like houses, oftentimes sold by a brother, a boyfriend, a father or a husband to a life of flesh trade or sex work. Most of these women trafficked into sex work, often do not have a choice and earn as little as ₹200 or even nothing at all.
Discriminated further by popular perceptions of being immoral or seen as ‘dirty’ for engaging in sex for money, they aren’t protected by law either. Theirs is a life of constantly being denied dignity, living in abject poverty, and being harassed even by local policemen, a life of never-ending betrayal at the hands of a system that refuses to see them as humans.
The coronavirus induced lockdown that was imposed in a rushed four-hour notice by the Modi Government further failed to account for the 1 million sex workers in the country who would be left without a livelihood, forced into a trap of debt and poverty. Unable to make ends meet many women were forced to take loans, some even returning to sex work to feed their children. Their children were also unable to have a chance at quality education as schools were forced to go online.
Now a documentary film Lockdown Impacts on Sexworkers of Kamathipura, commissioned by UK-based charity Collateral Global (www.collateralglobal.org) and directed by Abeer Khan— a Mumbai-based filmmaker, photographer and Kunal Purohit— an award-winning independent journalist who reports on issues of human interest and social justice, is shedding a light on the plight of the women and children that inhabit the crammed lanes of Kamathipura which houses around 4500-5000 sex workers. It brings into focus a government and a people that have failed an entire community of sex workers and even their children. Watch the documentary via the link below.
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