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Born into brothel, son pens mom's saga

MK Dutta, who grew up in Bengal's red-light area, has observed the life of sex workers like no other writer has.

india Updated: Aug 28, 2005 18:15 IST

It's an insider story, written by someone who has grown up amidst the squalour and the filth. Jounokormider Jibonshotto is a tale written by the son of a sex worker. Mrinal Kanti Dutta, who grew up in Sonagachhi, Bengal's infamous red-light district, has observed the life of sex workers perhaps like no other writer has.

The book details life in Sonagachhi ­-- the daily grin, the muscle power of pimps and several forms of sexual perversion that sex workers confront in the profession. Jouno... comprises stories from the lives of eight sex workers, taking an iconoclastic stance while the commercial sex workers unfold their rather asexual relationships with their babus.

The chapters unfold tales of these vulnerable women. It tells the stories of girls who have to be victims of the para dadas (local goons) first before they start earning money.

It also talks about the superstitions of red light districts and how pujas and religious rites are performed.

It's not only the filth that Dutta explores. Being an active worker of Durbar Mahila Samity, an organisation of sex workers, Dutta has witnessed the sea change in the mindset of the sex workers and how they have become conscious of their rights. Not only the rights, instances have been given on the awareness about condom usage and how clients are educated to prevent deadly diseases.

Trafficking, according to Dutta, has come down from 24.89 per cent to 3.58 per cent especially in the Sonagachi brothels in last 13 years. "It's an unprecedented change in the scenario of sex trade at Sonagachhi. Now pimps cannot force unwilling girls, coming from the poor economic backgrounds, to opt for this profession," claims Dutta. He said that after a decade-long journey, the situation has been partly brought under control.

But a major part is still unexplored as far as the implementation of sex worker's rights are concerned.

Inaugurating the book, author Samaresh Majumder said: "I have written on sex workers based on my imagination. Mrinal has blended figures with real life stories and this piece of literature is of first grade."

The book launch also saw three sex workers from the area -- Sadhana Mukherjee, Sankari Pal and Deepa Das -- narrating their everyday experience. "We sex workers do believe in human relationships. Instead of being just a commercial sex partner many forget that we nourish a human heart," said Sadhana.

"But is it really a crime becoming a sex worker if the society doesn't impart any options to us," asked Deepa, involved in the trade since 1997.

First Published: Aug 25, 2005 10:55 IST