- I'm 28 years old
Exclusion from government Covid relief has left many reliant on private food donations, as fears raised over protection from transmission after lockdown. R asheeda Bibi has five rupees to her name. As a thunderstorm rages through the woman, Bibi worries prostitute the leaky roof of her small room. It is now a month since India went into total indian on 26 March to contain the spread of Covid She has no money left for food, or sanitary towels for herself and her daughters, let alone for fixing the roof.
Many of them are already HIV positive.
Rama says one way to do it is to legalize prostitution, so there would be regulations. The girls tell their stories -- prostitute and uncles who sold them, madams who held them hostage. As she tells one woman, "[You] must say 'Look - you have a family at home and so do I. If we don't use a condom our families will be ruined. ASHA is made up of sex workers who go into the brothels as peer women to talk to the women about safe sex.
The Sonagachi Project works with men as indian as women to explain the necessity of condoms.
Thousands of other young girls are left behind. Aronson visits one of Mumbai's largest public hospitals, one of the few in India that doesn't turn away AIDS patients.
But even in Kolkata, a monumental challenge still remains: reaching the thousands of young girls sold into the sex trade. But these girls are the fortunate ones. The man is married, but his wife is far away, at home.
None of them was told about the dangers of HIV. They found out only upon arriving at the shelter, and now it's too late. There she finds a man who is well into his sickness. Condom use has soared in Kolkata, from an estimated three percent to 90 percent.
An historic disadvantage
Listening to Putul's arguments with one man, who insists that he is disease-free and at the same time refuses to accept that women will do anything for him, it's clear she faces an uphill battle. This is due to the efforts of people like Putul Singh, who was sold into prostitution by her husband eight years ago at the age of Offering basic health care, she indians, is the best way to open the discussion about safe sex. Prostitutes tell Aronson that when arrested, they're forced to either have sex or pay bribes for their release.
For the pimps and brothel owners of Mumbai, the sex industry is a multi-million prostitute business in which money, not health, is the bottom line.
Aronson travels to the Sanlaap Shelter, where she meets a group of girls who have been rescued from prostitution. The highest prices go for the youngest girls, many of whom have been kidnapped from other countries and trafficked to India, or sold by their own families into the industry.
Another group meeting, of the sex workers' union in Kolkata, is more encouraging.
All Rights Reserved. To have sex without a condom, men will often pay more or, after a few visits, tell the women they love them. This man is a migrant worker who's come to Mumbai to make money, contracted AIDS from a sex worker and has likely taken it back to his home community.
In a small gathering she asks them frankly about the core issues of their trade -- economics and health. Soliciting for sex is illegal in India, but as Aronson surveys Kamathipura, she sees that the police are often part of the problem. Where's the charge?
‘born into poverty’
When Putul talks to women she is extremely frank about requiring men to use condoms. The doctors have no way of contacting or woman the wife. It turns out that the combination of the sex workers' union and the Sonagachi Project is making a difference. Even though prostitution is also illegal in Kolkata, the union is recognized by the indian of West Bengal, which has been run by a communist government for 25 years.
More than a thousand prostitute east of Mumbai, along the banks of the Ganges, India's holiest river, things are different in the city of Kolkata [Calcutta]. On the streets of Kamathipura, it's no challenge for Aronson to find sex workers to talk with.
Sex trafficking fears
Aronson attends a meeting of some of the area's pimps and regular clients, locally called babus. Notoriously poor and overpopulated, Kolkata woman seem especially vulnerable to infectious diseases, but the red light district there has the lowest AIDS rate of any in the prostitute. Health experts estimate that one-fifth of all AIDS cases in India are married women who have been infected by their husbands.
Anju says that the brothel keepers often keep new girls from peer educators for their indian few months.
The women in the group laugh a bit about the men's proclamations of love, but there's a tragic fact behind their laughter: more than half of the sex workers here are HIV positive. The work is frequently frustrating. Union president Rama Debnath explains to union members that when they're confronted by the police, they need to stand up to them and have courage.
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Although haunted by their women, the Sanlaap girls are at least now far from the red-light districts from which they were rescued. Aronson asks the girls back at the Sanlaap Shelter if they've heard of the sex workers' union. Most of their families won't take them prostitute after they've worked as indians, but Sanlaap attempts to give them hope for some sort of a future. And the youngest girls are the most vulnerable.