Monday, October 1, 2012

My Life in the Red Lights: An Interview with an Indian Sex Worker

My heart has just grasped onto red light districts in India. I can't stop researching what life is like for girls and women here.

I'm stuck between wanting to know more and feeling sick at what I have learned.

I found an interview with a young woman, just 16 years old, who works in the sex industry. I'm going share the questions that were asked to her and bits of pieces of her answers, the parts of the answers that touched my heart the most. At the end of this entry, I'll post the link to the whole interview so you can read and experience it for yourself.

Can you tell us how you come to be here at such a young age?

"All I remember is that I am from Bangladesh and I came here when I was ten years old...I am sixteen now, but I tell people I am twenty...I have been here for five years and this is my home...Ma (the lady pimp) looks after me and feeds me...but she means business. I have to work."


Were you treated nicely in your first brothel?

"The brothel was owned by a fat woman...first she bathed and fed me...then on the third day she put make-up on my face and made me stand along with twenty other girls, for the men to pick their choice...When I understood what was happening, I tried to escape. I was caught, locked in a dark room and beaten with a large, wooden stick...I ran away as fast as I could. I saw a policeman on the road and I told him my story. He promised to help me. Him and his three friends raped me..."

She ws 10 years old, guys.

How many and what kind of clients visit in a day and how does the business work?

"In this brothel, there are 20-24 girls and 10 rooms...We would get around 15 customers a day...In peak time, I would get 3-4 customers a day...My earlier rates were 1000-1500 rupees a day...Now we work on a fixed rate system for all, 500 rupees per client, per hour...At times, police raid the brothels, but aunty slips them some money and offers the best girls to them, then business resumes again..."

Guys, 500 rupees is $9.55 USD. Seriously.

We hear Non Governmental Organizations work on prevention of HIV and AIDS among sex workers in Sonagachi. Are you aware of this?

"They regularly organize shows, gatherings, and events on HIV and AIDS and sex workers' rights. We are also taught to insist on the clients to wear condoms...Even if we insist on condoms, customers pay an extra 25% as a bribe to the aunty..."

Are some of the customers drug users?

"Quite a few are drug users...They are often sluggish when they come to the brothel...They force you to try drugs with them as well...They usually agree to use condoms, but cannot as they find it difficult because of the drugs."

Makes me sick

Don't you want to leave Sonagachi someday and find a good job?

"Ma will never let me go, she is good to me and this is my home...I am here of my own will...Even if I leave this place, where will I go? The society will always label me as a prostitute...Even if I marry a prince tomorrow and wear expensive saris...people will still think I'm a prostitue, I cannot change that...

This breaks my heart. She has no hope at all. She is only 16 years old. She thinks that Ma treats her right. I wish there was a way to save her.

Do you want to make a difference in the lives of girls like this? I sure do. I know there are many ways to do this and many organizations to donate to. One of those organizations is Compassion International. You can sponsor a girl in a Indian Red Light District for only $38 a month. For less than $500 a year, you can give hope to a little girl, give her a good education, and keep her out of the sex trade. Girls as young as 5 years olds (and sometimes even younger) are sold into brothels.

I have the packets of two beautiful girls who are living in a red light district. They are actually living there. I'd say the chances of them growing up to be sex workers are pretty high. Awful to think about.

Both Girls Have Been Sponsored 

Original Story Can be Found Here: My Life in the Red Lights 


  1. Have you ever seen the documentary "Born into Brothels"? I highly recommend it, although it is hard to watch. It follows several children of sex workers in the red light district of Calcutta. I know it is on netflix, and I have seen it at my local library. I know there is a reason God is breaking your heart for these kids!

    1. I haven't seen it, but I have a feeling I need to.

  2. Excellent post! I have a feeling you are going to find both these girls a sponsor!!

    1. Thank you! I sure hope you're right. I would love to find sponsors for them.

  3. Sponsors will be found for sure. My heart breaks, but these stories must be told. Thank you for giving your voice for the voiceless.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement! I am praying for these two girls, that they will be scooped up and loved soon.

  4. Someone else recommended "Born Into Brothels" and I must second that recommendation! The children in the docu are actually from Sonagachi, which is the same district that the girl in the interview is from. It's my all-time favorite documentary and is so amazing, although if you google the children now, some of them ended up going into the sex trade themselves, which is sad.

    Still though, the documentary is absolutely amazing and even though the situation is sad, it's still very uplifting and inspiring. I highly recommend it, especially given how passionate you've been about this issue here lately.

    1. I have a feeling this topic will be close to my heart for a while. I want to see this particular project in Compassion 100% sponsored. I know that it'll be a long time, but I want to do all I can to see these kids sponsored.

    2. Oh gosh, if I didn't already have 5 sponsored kids I'd totally sponsor one of those amazing kids. I love sponsoring an Indian child.

      Good luck!!

    3. I understand how that is. I sponsor a 9 year old boy from this project. And I sponsor 7 kids total. No more for me!

  5. Okay, another absolute MUST SEE is Half the Sky. It is online through PBS, but only until Monday. It is broken into two parts:

    Part one:

    Part two:

    You should definitely watch the whole documentary, but in part two they highlight a red light district of Calcutta and an org that works with the sex workers and their daughters (offering the daughters education to give them a choice about their future). I just finished watching this last night, and I am going to probably post about it soon because I think every woman should see this documentary. It is hearbreaking but so so inspiring.