Culture & Lifestyle / Kolkata Sex Trade Workers Prepare For New Careers As Actors And Singers

Kolkata Sex Trade Workers Prepare For New Careers As Actors And Singers

Culture & Lifestyle Feb 14, 2016

Sonagachi — Asia’s largest red-light district — gets new hopes of a better life for sex workers and their children.

West Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee introduced the Muktir Alo (Light of Freedom) project for women, girls and children rescued. The project aims to bring sex workers out of the red light district to start new and better lives.

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The project will train the women in “dancing, acting, and singing, so that they can get an opportunity in movies and serials,” said Minister of Women Development and Social Empowerment Sashi Panja.
The government has contacted film and serial producers and directors to ensure that these women will have work in the industry mastering the art of acting. Moreover, some workers showed concern about marginalization when they try to get work in the field due to their background. However, the government assures them that they will have help seeking a better future.

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Along with singing and acting classes, the women will also take spoken English classes. So far, 50 participants have enrolled in these courses, which have already begun. “The girls are bring imparted lesson in voice modulation, acting, and dancing,” said Samarjit Jana of the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC), who's overlooking the training program. He said he's hopeful about the success of this initiative. It has already created a lot of curiosity among sex trade workers and their children.
Although this isn't the first attempt to help sex workers and their children pursue better lives, it does offer a better financial outcome than previous initiatives. The government had tried to have workers enroll in job-related training — workshops on sewing and weaving. However, these attempts didn’t get much response. The programs weren’t very financially beneficial.
“This is [the] second phase of the rehabilitation programme for the sex workers and their family members and those girls who have been rescued from the flesh trade,” said Panja.

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Despite the government's and workers' attempts to better their lives, many workers are concerned. They worry whether they'll find acceptance and respect in a society that views their work as taboo. “We are willing to participate in the programme. We hope that after the workshop we will be able to get opportunities. And out past like won’t come in our way,” said a 28-years-old sex worker.

A 24-years-old sex worker said, “If a porn star can become an actress, why can’t we sex workers become actresses?”
What are your thoughts on this initiative of the West Bengal government? Will these sex workers face discrimination due to their past when they try to improve their lives? Let us know in the comments below. 

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Farah Quraishi

Farah Quraishi


Farah Quraishi is a Journalism graduate from Sheridan College, she teaches story writing to young adults, has won a best documentary award at BEAC Awards, and enjoys fashion, nature, and Bollywood. She always had a passion for writing and decided to pursue that path.


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