How casual would it be for you to get out on the streets and watch women with the best of their attires, standing out and inviting you to exploit their own selves? That too not by performing erotic stunts but casually listening to music with earphones plugged in or having a sip of tea at the local tea shop. If you want to talk to their men, you just need to walk a step forward to see them grouped up and playing cards or relaxing with a ‘lungi’ on and probably having a gossip among their own kind. All this is the alarming but harsh truth and this truth was quite clear to me through the window of a car while an international anti-trafficking, non-profit organization took me for a drive through the streets of the traditional and historic red-light area near the Kalighat Temple in Kolkata where Commercial Sex Work is no more a taboo or wrong, it is an accepted form of exploitation which not just the women but the people, in general, have accepted as a way of life. This way of life does not just extend to a casual stroll of Commercial Sex Workers, it also extends to paintings and wall graffiti in support of Commercial Sex Work which on reading echoes in your mind if this illicit business is exploitation or is it that acceptance has made it a mild form of compulsion.
It feels eerie indeed when I think whether it is this acceptance by the community and its people that has enabled and allowed a closely woven net were once trapped, getting out is next to impossible. A potential question that one is posed with after seeing the extent of casualness with which such profession is practiced in the very epicenter of the city is that whether the minors and children pulled into this profession remain unheard, unseen and deprived from natural justice to face all kinds of exploitation, just for this ignorance and acceptance by the very people of the community who are supposed to protect them. It remains obvious that the alley, the community, the locality and the city which stays silent at such casual and apparently regular way in which Commercial Sex Work is prevalent to the extent of coming down on streets, the same city will remain silent when a minor gets trapped into this business too, mainly owing to this acceptance and new face of exploitation where everything is a natural way of life. Even when a minor walking through those same streets is highly vulnerable to get influenced as well as being pulled into this profession and be lured and trapped very easily, silence will prevail. Justice to the one trapped in the network is an ordeal as the covert nature of the network and the people who remain trapped was fairly visible to me in the very same drive when our car on taking another round at the same spot was detected already by an apparent lookout who was heard prompting out to his mate that ‘why is this car taking a second round?’. It was indeed alarming to see the community acting as a lookout and practicing the interests of traffickers. This was a one of experience through the window of a car. I wonder what would be in store for me if I had to walk the narrow lanes and by-lanes of the Kalighat red-light district. I wonder if there are children of my age who dream to walk out of these places and be free again.
The question for our part is that if we could prevent a child from facing this exploitation. So what can we do? Is it just a fact of supply and demand or is there a human tale that would compel you to end this trafficking? You and I need to speak up, not individually but with a united voice so that we can put an end to this acceptance and the new face of exploitation. Our voice will help not only in bringing down the whole network of criminals under control but, it will also keep our next few generations free from the clutches of such crimes of trafficking and abuse.
By Prathit Singh
Prathit Singh is a student of Class 12 from the Heritage School, Kolkata. He takes an active interest in debates and discussions and is motivated to work for a social cause. He has undue faith in the power of words and believes in vocalizing his thoughts and ideas in order to propagate awareness in society and bring about a change. Besides debating, he also takes a deep interest in poetry and has published several poems reflecting his ideas on several social issues. He aspires to contribute a step forward to an inclusive, just and peaceful society not only through his actions but also through his words.