In May, 12 girls from Kamathipura — one of India’s largest red-light areas — will go to the United States to perform a play on the lives of sex workers.
The girls, all daughters of sex workers and members of a non-governmental organisation Kranti, which works for the upliftment of trafficked girls and childre of sex workers, said they are looking forward to this opportunity.
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Nearby, Bachchuseth ki Wadi on Foras Road was famous for its kothewalis or tawaifs and mujras.
Over the years under Indian government rule, the sex industry in Kamathipura continued to flourish, and trafficking brought women from different parts of the country here. Today, it is said that there are so many brothels in the area that there is no space for the sex workers to sit.
However, very little information is available on the government and non-governmental efforts to help this section of the population lead a dignified life.
An in-depth study of the red-light area and the pattern of functioning reflect the dehumanizing situation that the commercially sexually exploited women face every day.
This small region boasted the most exotic consorts.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, a large number of women and girls from continental Europe and Japan were trafficked into Kamathipura, where they worked as prostitutes servicing British soldiers and local Indian men.
Titled Lal Batti Express, the hour-long play showcases the problems and challenges faced by sex workers in the area, and is based on the real life account of the participants who are between 14 and 19 years of age.
“The title speaks of the contrast between the stigmatised life in the red-light area and that of VIPs, as red-beacon vehicles symbolise the high life,” said Robin Chaurasia, co-founder and spokesperson of the NGO.
Rani Patil, 14, who is also busy with her Class 10 exams, said the play would sensitise others to the trials and tribulations of the lives of her ilk.
It was first settled after 1795 with the construction of causeways that connected the erstwhile seven islands of Bombay.
It was bounded by Bellasis Road on the north, by Grant Road on the south and the main road across, Falkland Road.