When all of Delhi is sprucing itself up for the Commonwealth Games in October, why should G.B. Road be left behind?
An enterprising NGO, Savera Voluntary Organisation working in the Capital's prime red light area — which houses around 6,000 sex workers — has begun teaching them English and offering them tips on how to deal with foreigners, so they too can take full advantage of the business opportunities the Games will bring.
Until a few months ago, 25-year-old Sharmila, from Kathmandu, struggled to speak even Hindi. But now she can reel off English expressions like “Hello”, “How are you” and “Thank you” with a flourish. By October she hopes to be fluent in the language.
Salma, 32, from Tamil Nadu is just as enthusiastic. She never misses a single one of the English classes. “I take my 7-year-old son along so he can learn English too,”she says.
The dingy brothel rooms are getting a makeover too, with designer tiles, LCD television sets and split air conditioners being installed.
"We've put in modern amenities in many of the kothas already,” said Anand Sharma, president, Savera.
Some concerns, however, remain. Another sex worker, Nasreen Begum warned: “All such efforts will be useless if the administration does not take stern action against local goons, who beat up and rob customers.”