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Daughter of a sex worker reaches out to Sonagachi sex workers and their children

She started working with Janashastha after breaking away from Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee

Vedant Karia | Published 11.10.22, 06:04 PM
Representational image

Representational image


Every evening, her house echoes the murmur of children reciting maths tables or pondering over which colours to use for their drawings. These are children of sex workers, who come to the house on on BK Pal Avenue every day to study and draw.

The initiative to educate the children, improve their lives and help them overcome challenges and hardships has been taken by the daughter of a sex worker herself.


“My mother was a sex worker. We were three siblings and she ensured that we got an education. I was aware of her profession since my childhood. We siblings lived in a family home outside Sonagachi. We had a house help who would get us ready for school and would come back to the house by 4pm. My mother would only come back to the house to sleep at midnight, and she would still be sleeping when we left for school. She would only go to Sonagachi to work at 11am,” she said.

Her most memorable moments as a child are her Sunday outings when her mother would take her to have kachoris.

‘I got married into a bad family. I had no choice’

Things changed after she completed her schooling. “Upon finishing Class XII, I was married off. Since my mother was a sex worker, I got married into a bad family. I had no choice. There, I was tortured and harassed by my in-laws. When it got too much to handle, I left the house and came back to my mother.”

While the then young girl’s mother welcomed her back with her three children, her brothers had a patriarchal mindset and objected to her living with them. It was then that her life took a major turn. “Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee worked for sex workers rights in Sonagachi. My mother spoke to them and soon enough I started working with them.”

A renewed sense of purpose

She was first appointed as a peer educator and rose through the ranks, eventually becoming a programme director. She worked with the West Bengal government on sexual health and other issues.

The decade-long association with Durbar ended in 2010. The parting was not amicable as she felt her work was not appreciated and alleged exploitation. It took her some time to find a renewed sense of purpose. Six months ago, she joined Janashastha to help sex workers across the city.

The journey hasn’t been easy as she alleges she has not been allowed to operate within the limits of Sonagachi, where Durbar holds fort. The relationship between the two collectives is strained but the woman and her team of service providers carry on their work.

‘Happy to see some progress’

“My daughter teaches them (children of sex workers) drawing and takes just Rs 500 as compensation. Our organisation mostly runs on donations, we don’t know which way the river is going to flow but are happy to see some progress,” she said.

“We try to do our best in assisting sex workers with any financial, social or health-related matters. Besides the classes for children, we organise at least one general health camp every month at Rabindra Sarani,” she said.

It is ironic perhaps that the house on BK Pal Avenue from where Janashastha operates was bought with money that she got as loan from Durbar while she was working there.

Last updated on 11.10.22, 06:20 PM

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