Courtesy an Irish inspiration, Sonagachi sex workers crave for dignity
Sex workers living in the Sonagachi red light area, Asia's largest, are now seeking inspiration from an Irish lady who left the trade for want of a dignified life and her son's future.
As a homeless 15-year-old girl, Rachel Moran had no choice when she was thrown into a brothel in North Dublin city. Seven years later she came out of the profession to give a better future to her 4-year-old son who had no one to call father.
Moran had also became a drug addict but is now a journalist, author and anti-trafficking activist.
During a recent visit to the city, she interacted with women from the Munshiganj and Sonagachi red light areas of the city.
"It doesn't matter whether I am speaking to a black woman in the USA or indigenous woman in Canada or a white woman from one of the European countries. They all have the same story that they got into prostitution because they had no other viable choice. That is absolutely universal even in India of course," the 40-year-old said.
Activist Ruchira Gupta, founder of Apne Aap Women Worldwide NGO, who accompanied her, said the women were overwhelmed and deeply inspired by her courage to leave the trade. "The women who met her during the visit were very curious to know, that how could she get rid of her addiction," Gupta said. Moran said her love for her child played the most crucial part for her.
"Many survivors agreed with her. They have the same kind of love and concern for their own children," Gupta said. Moran, who has written her autobiography "Paid for: My Journey Through Prostitution", said she knew that if she didn't go out of the trade that time she would lose her son because she couldn't maintain the routine of a school-going child.
"I was taking massive amount of cocaine. My system was overloaded due to overdose. It was a do or die moment in life and there was no support. But I decided to move out to study journalism and got a job later," she said.
In Indian brothels too, many of them are addicted to drugs and alcohol.
"It is the easiest way to escape pain and emotional suffering," Gupta said, adding that there are instances of sex workers having left the sex trade in India as well.
"Apne Aap (NGO) survivors have done that. 'Apne Aap Ten Assets' approach helps a survivor over a period of time to gain self-confidence and link her to various government schemes and services which reduces her dependency (practical and emotional) on the brothel system," she said.