As per the age-old custom practised by Bengalis ahead of Durga Pujo, it is the soil upon which brothels stand that is used year after year to make the idols of the goddess.
Even then, sex workers continue to struggle through a life of social isolation and discrimination and are treated like vermin by the society as a whole for selling their bodies.
In recognition of the life and struggle of the sex workers, a 300-feet-long stretch of road in the Ahiritola area in Kolkata was painted with vivid colours illustrating tales of hardship and circumstances that push women into the vicious circle of flesh trade.
A bold and progressive project taken up by the Ahiritola Jubakbrinda Durga puja committee that was unveiled on Monday, the theme of the street graffiti is the lives of the inmates of Sonagachi, widely considered to be Asia’s largest red light area.
“Our aim is to spread awareness among people to highlight the life and struggle of a sex worker,” said Uttam Saha, who is the working president of the committee.
“A woman becomes a sex worker either due to trafficking or for the sake of running her family. She is also a mother, who despite all odds, takes care of her children and family. There can’t be disparity when we celebrate womanhood in the form of goddess Durga,” said Manas Roy, an artist who participated in the project.
From a door with three women peeping from the inside to a distorted ‘kumkum’ line on a woman’s forehead signifying her tragedy, check out the photographs of this thought-provoking street graffiti:
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)