This visit definitely paid but it was not as what I expected. What did I expect in the first place, I dunno .. I now sit and wonder what I did expect to see in Sonagachi, probably the largest red light district … Did I expect some love, some joy, some peace …?? No .. I didn’t expect any of them but I did expected to see some concern towards the women. Then I understood what I expected was a complete opposite to what they have been experiencing or what they have been expected to experience …
So when I first heard about Sonagachi (like in real from persons who are serving those women to get them out of prostitution or to help them with some of their basic needs like some govt, schemes or ID Cards) I was so excited to pay a visit. I thought seeing the situation through my own eyes rather than from someone else’s would help me to understand the women better and will help me in a great amount to work with them. Well I think I’m right from that part.. But the worst part is I was so so so upset and down myself after just seeing few girls (Its obvious since the girls I saw on my way were like 13 or 14 and I felt pity for them) And the most frustration part is that few of those kids have children 😦 😦 😦
The time we went in there was that the business was about to start .. We reached there around 6 PM I think .. I could see women lined up, waiting for their customers trying to show their best.. We walked through the street of Sonagachi with a wonderful team whom were known to the entire community.. I saw these women in their eyes and I saw fear, self-pity, annoyance, mistrust, helplessness, upset, depressed, sense of loss, alienated and crushed together … I bet I am missing so many feelings of them to pen since it’s really difficult for me to come up with words..
I met Aaliyah* who is just 23 and has 6 yrs old son who is in a boarding school.. She was so excited to share about the stationery items her son got in his school and very eagerly willing to know how he is doing in his studies from our team.. The fact here is only then I realised how human these women are and the horrorness behind each being dragged in to this flesh trade.. I saw the beautiful mother in Aaliyah.. She herself was a kid still, in her lovely bluish eyes, innocent smile and pleasant face.. Her voice was so soft and it almost felt that she is singing rather talking.. She really was excited and happy to talk about her son. But our conversation was cut short since she has to get her work done and so we said good-bye to each other and her bye made me all tense thinking how horrific her night gonna be!!
While returning back I remembered a movie I saw when I was a kid (Mahanadhi – Tamil movie). It portrays child trafficking. I remember crying for long time after watching the movie and I got the same feeling when I was with Aaliyah. Sonagachi created a state of helplessness in me which was pretty upset and irritating to me and also I was so insecure than I was ever in my life..
How could men derive pleasure after seeing all the pain in those women’s eyes and I literally felt like I wanna cry for their freedom, peace and joy!
The visit left a deep and everlasting wound in my heart and I never knew that I may be able to forget or find cure to this wound. Unveiling Sonagachi with my own eyes seemed interesting when I was planning and when I encountered it was the most tragic and painful moment in my life.. But then again I would love to give another visit to Sonagachi in my life just to smile at people who are there who deserves a normal life-like any of us. I will visit Aaliyah once more and will give her a hug to show her my affection for her.
I know that not all men are same but still I hate this male chauvinistic, dominating, discriminative, cruel, and selfish society…
My heart is filled with gratitude for my team here who introduced us to Aaliyah and Sonagachi…
* Name changed. I named her Aaliyah which means humble and I believe she deserves this..