A day at the Brothel

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One night there was a special mail from my dear friend, Pratyush, that read

Would like to invite you to an afternoon of art and fun with kids on Feb 2 (Sat). Pls read on for more details.

Time: 2-5 pm

Location: GB road, Delhi (will meet at New Delhi metro station, 0.5 kms from there)

Background

Our dear sister Gitanjali (she came to the 1st Awakin also) has been engaging with the didis (sex workers) and their kids in Delhi’s red light area on GB road. In terms of project activities in the past 1 year, she has focused on developing tailoring skills among the didis (the ones interested and allowed to come) and also providing an environment for their kids that is conducive to fun and learning. They do quite a bit with the approx. 20 kids now that some more volunteers have joined in (dance, art, school subjects, etc) Its been quite a journey for her and the group, one that we cannot imagine!!! At some point later, hope to hear her story J

Among the various ripples that the group’s fearlessness and determination has generated, one has been that a brothel owner has given them a space for the kids, on the top floor. This ‘play school’ area is at present barren, and can be made more child-friendly! So, we thought of inviting our dear ones over to come and unleash the artist in them! And, of course, spend time with the kids J

At that moment, I did not stop to think about the ‘red light area’ part or the ‘sex workers’ part as I was too consumed in my excitement to get crafty and  to creatively do up a certain space. Never having seen a brothel before, I was quite oblivious to what was in store for me. Saturday morning was all about brainstorming about the possible crafts, making a list, hopping to the closest market and getting down to some pre-preparations. By 1pm, I was all set to go with my box full of craft goodies.

As our car entered GB road, we were taken aback by the sight of the sex workers waving from window grills from above the line of shops on the ground floor. A chill ran down my spine. Just then, Pratyush came in, helped us park and showed us the way to the staircase leading to one of the brothels. The climb to the topmost floor where the children were waiting seemed to take a lifetime. The dark green walls, the women sitting around, the man leaving hurriedly, the claustrophobia had me shivering from top to toe. I was clenching Amber’s hand as tight as a tick!

By the time, I met the kids, I was dumbstruck. So I went about decorating the place and making it look more creative and colourful, all with shivering hands and stammer in my speech. But as time passed, I realised how these children were no different from any other children I’ve ever met. The boys were naughty, smart and proactive while the girls were shy, patient and artistic just like in most homes and neighbourhoods.

Some of the Didis too came upstairs and one of them sat with us to make a beautiful piece of art. They were all pleasant and kind and quite oblidged to see so many of us contributing. But you know what I think? It is us who should be immensely grateful to them for facing the dark side of brutes, the shame of the society and freeing us to enjoy the good life.

I found myself regretting all the times I would have in my mind abused another woman to be a ‘whore’. You see, it isn’t an abuse at all! Whores are women with a profession that earns them a livelihood. They take in their stride, various forms of frustration and desperation, which otherwise maybe you or me would have had to face. Can we not give them a little respect, if nothing else?

If I had stopped to think about the consequences of visiting a brothel, maybe I would have turned down Pratyush’s invitation. But my ignorance dragged me there and I am glad I was able to help make a very small yet significant difference in their lives. Hats off to Gitanjali and her team for being so dedicated in their cause.

Turning a blind eye to such a glaring reality of our society is anything but praiseworthy. Wouldn’t it be a beautiful world if we saw all the diverse aspects of our society, free of judgement, and learnt to give each human being his/her due respect and acceptance.

Yes, it would be!