Written by Dhee Basu
Bengali film “RAJKAHINI” when moved the Bengali audience from the core, Bollywood too made a remake of it, named it “BEGUM JAAN”, is a story of some prostitutes who fought their best in the partition of India. Whether it’s Rituparna Sen or Vidya Balan both portrayed a fearless character of Begum Jaan who was the head of that specific brothel, along with her other mates. We were moved and surprised as well when we saw this film, as before it, we knew “CHAMELI”, who sang “Behka hai mann kah
in, Kahan jaanti nahin,… Bhage re mann” along with Aman. “Chameli” is too a film based on a prostitute who is stuck in the downpour of Mumbai with Aman, who is a banker, and gradually the movie revealed how two people of the opposite world bonded and talked about life. Leaving the film aside, Sadat Hussain Manto is a famous writer and known for his controversial writings which revolve around wretched, tortured, misused female soul, who may or may not belong to a brothel. Manto’s Hattak is a heartwrenching story, where protagonist Saugandhi is a prostitute by profession, was free from the illusion and extortion in the name of love, when she was rejected by her client in a night, & found solitude and affection by cuddling her dog. In “Sharda”, Sharda is a prostitute as well but is a loving, caring woman, who sensed Nazeer’s infidelity and left him.
Prostitution is a profession, which always takes place in the Red-corner and people who pursue this, is abducted by that Red-Light area forever from society and no one even offers a ransom. Sex is a taboo in many societies and who performs this for money due to poverty, becomes a non-existent member in this man-made society. In 1970, French police pressurized the sex workers and forced them to work in secret. As the protection of sex workers declined, violence increased, two murders happened, & the government’s unwillingness to help them ignited the rage, and sex workers in Lyon occupied Saint-Nizier church in rue de Brest and went to strike. This movement was the starting point of celebrating International Sex workers Day.
Why a person would ever choose such a profession?. The answer was simple for them. Hunger, Poverty, Money, & Existence. Though not all of them chose this by their own will, child trafficking, human & sex trafficking are the reason as well. Unprotected sex, unhealthy habits, and living usually led to STD, AIDS, and different other diseases. Society never thought about their rights, rather turned their faces whenever they came in front of them. In 1995, Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (West Bengal) first extended their hand towards them. DMSC made them realize the importance of protection during sex and provided education to their children. As time goes, many more foundations come to help those poor souls.
We enjoy when Devdas fall in love with Chandramukhi, we go to their doors to collect mud from their house to sculpt Idols, “Dolla re, Dolla re” dance between Paro – Chandramukhi amused us but we merely notice their situation, merely talk about their rights in public. Maybe we are not Stephen & Lynch from “ULYSSES”, who enjoyed socializing with prostitutes Kitty and Florry in Bella Cohen’s Brothel. In 2021, still, it is an illegal profession, yet people are unable to stop human trafficking and as a result, SAKINA (KHOL DO, Manto) like innocent girls becomes the victim.
While human trafficking is a major reason, some choose this due to poverty. So what can be the possible solution, so that Sakina or Saugandhi can get a break. DMSC like NGOs and organizations are there to help them. Extend your hand or knowledge or money or power to these organizations, so some girl or boy may get out of it and can lead a life they desire. Throughout history, these human beings have been treated as a sex-object, have been tortured immensely. This is the prime time when we can directly or indirectly help them and can talk about their human rights. In reality, they may be or maybe not as gorgeous as CHAMELI, CHANDRAMUKHI, or fearless as Begum Jaan, but they are a mother to some, sister to some, and maybe a lover to one.
The color Red is symbolic enough, as it may signify danger or sun-rise. Prostitution, Brothel-culture, RED-LIGHT area is not new, it was there, it is still there. It is up to us, whether we will be scared of red or will support their words, rights to live, and help them to rise. In the end, Chameli, Chandramukhi, Saugandhi, Kitty, Florry all are human beings.
Written By Dhee Basu