On hearing the word ‘red-light', the very image that pops up in our mind is of a flesh trade where ladies sell their body for money and we call them sex workers. But, often we forget that there is a reason for every person to do what they do, and for these women we are in a hurry to jump into a conclusion rather then understanding their plight.
It is a matter of ‘only choice' left for them to survive in this heartless world. Though, many of them are doing it as a part of family tradition while hundreds others are being enforced into this derogatory trade against their will. And the very reason behind it is the growing network of human trafficking, sexual slavery and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation.
In this very situation, this story of a Mumbai girl (first posted on Humans of Bombay), who hails from Red light area, came as sunshine in the rain. Her life story is an inspiration for the women/girls living in and around the flesh trade markets as well as for the society which treats them unequally.
The chilling account of her life will change your opinion about the people living in the not-so-talked about areas of the society, and next time before judging a person you might think about the possibilities that a person with a strong will holds.
Here is what she has to say:
"I've grown up in a red light area, surrounded by the flesh trade all my life. At 12, I've been asked for my 'rate' and cried myself to sleep because I didn't understand it.
But you want to know what's worse?
It's that the men who came to ask would all be from the 'upper class' as you call it with shiny cars and the perception that they could 'buy' anything.
But the women there are my family...they've taken care of me when my mother would have to go work at a factory near by and treated with me so much love and kindness, but I still grew up with a very low self esteem because of my dark color.
I don't know why you have to be fair to be beautiful...and because I'm dark I've always been called ugly. Once my 12th standard ended, I decided to make a change. I told the people at my Municipal school that I wanted to study, learn English and make something of myself. That's when I went to an organization called Kranti.
I spent the next year, travelling across India conducting workshops on sex education and that's when I realized that not everyone judges me for my background and kind of got my self esteem back.
I've always been a day dreamer, so I randomly just said it out loud one day that I want to go America (at that point I didn't even know if it was a continent, city or a country) and through Kranti's efforts I got a full scholarship at Bard College to study Liberal Arts.
We crowd sourced the rest of the money for my accommodation and day to day expenses and my life has just turned around...I've been to semester at Sea, I speak fluent English and have amazing entrepreneurial ideas to make a difference to my home...to Kamathipura.
Yes, open your mind about my home. Accept that people have choices and know that so many women there are in it by choice...because it's their source of livelihood. As Indians, we need to judge less and accept things that are not always in our comfort zone, because my background is not my weakness...I'm me, and no location can define who I am."