A Dark Alley Of Sex Trade
Just behind the heart of darkness, every window up there is narrating an unending tale of smothering heights, a tale of choked and muffled cries. A tale of children born with a night sincerely promising no bright morning. Their lives plunge in the murky mire. Amidst all this soullessness some roving eyes are searching for someone in the crowd who they believe someday will climb the stained stairs and renew the hope out of this red light zone where the light is dimming to faint as every moment is ticking by. Business is going to the dogs. What these sex workers on GB Road in Delhi are left with is just a white hope that falsely holds them out a promise to sustain life with a good morning. The day dawns, the sun matures into a bright day then comes the eerie evening with the sun dipping on the other side, the windows fill with painted visages and the night honestly haunts them one and all. They are not into this flesh trade out of choice rather they are forced to hug this sex-selling business as Hobson’s choice. The journey to these windows has no U-turn; these windows lead them to nowhere, just to the dead end in the end—just the dark alleys with the same abusive refrain.
Business goes downhill
But now these windows, once left ajar, have descended downstairs in the street. Long wait in vain; the ancient trade has undergone a change with many new avenues and the turnout has thinned down. ‘Earlier moneyed clients would come but now they have other better options. I’ve to go around the bus stop, the market and the station soliciting customers even for rupees 200. Rickshaw wallahs and drivers are the only clients left. I have to sleep even for rupees 50 with that stinking stale sweat, just terrible!’ Suman says. The stretch with 80-90 brothels accommodates around 2000 sex workers. Here, some NGOs are working with a view to improving civic conditions, checking sex-related diseases and taking education into account.
Four-five customers in a day is like a treat, rupees 500 for a couple of hours is a meaty deal but on the other hand the grind of body for small bucks, few tenners are in no way less than a nightmare. However, the tummy teaches to take tenners too. The peeping window has almost shut and roadside sex has gone into a decline. Pimps living off this sexy business are now starving as the trade has gone behind the façade of escorts services and masseurs. A Sonu Punjaban-run ‘high- profile call-girls’ racket with white females from Uzbekistan and Russia is such an example.
Trade changes hands
Brothels seem close to shutting down, for flesh trade remains no longer confined to the dingy and cramped cabins of a whorehouse with beetle and gutka-stained walls and lingerie is a common sight there. On the contrary, it has begun to thrive in posh colonies, plushy hotel rooms, tony bazaars, beauty salons and in corporate offices where the word compromise and casting couch are a common thing. If you want to land a job or get a promotion, be ready for a cup of coffee, a long drive or dinner with your boss, nothing but only sex is wrapped in all such packets.
Hyderabad has always been a mushrooming market for a new crop of sex, whereas the north-east has been an epicenter of sex trafficking. Besides, Mumbai used to be a steamy and sleazy road and the trade there flourished well under the guise of beer bars, girls at the bar went great guns, later, they were rendered jobless after the state government had banned the beer bars. They made their ways to Dubai, Bahrain and the like. Some moved to places such as Delhi and Bengaluru where they found themselves in a cosy corner and continued running the ‘business’ staying camouflaged in residential colonies .
Cry in chorus
‘It’s time it was legalised so as to avoid being harassed every other day. We should be permitted to live our lives’, Mala said. Sex workers vote for it in unison, they want to be given a license so as to carry on with the profession without any hiccup. It’s said that the lion’s share goes to the local thana, madame or bawd (nayeka) and pimps. These pimps are the nightmares to many sex-selling souls. They create fuss by playing foul with the clients and even rob them of their last penny. ‘This keeps the customers at bay at times. Customers (loora) even hesitate to climb up the stairs that spoils the market,’ she concludes.
Some prominent Red Light Areas (RLAs) across the country
Agra: Basai, Tilak Bazaar, Seo Ka Bazaar and Mandi
Mumbai: Kamathipura, Bhindi Bazaar, Faras Road
Delhi: Garstin Bastion Road notoriously as GB Road
Kotha no.62 and 64 are what many pride themselves on boasting of. These are here in British Delhi’s Garstin Bastion Road (GB Road) though christened Swami Shradhanand Marg, Delhi’s infamous red-light district with numerous aspects such as Connaught Place-like corridors, Old Delhi-type mansions (havelis), and even an ATM to get instant cash for paid sex upstairs. This stretch, teeming with shops, migrant labourers, rickshaws and push cart pullers, chaat-wallas, women in sarees (riding up to their knees), young girls in capris and harems with tempting and inviting foxy gestures, like the one biting the lower lip, does not figure on the tourist itinerary but a walking distance from touristy areas such as Chandni Chowk and Connaught Place takes you there in no time. The brothels have all such as Munnis, Sheilas, Chandnis, Katrinas, Jennifers and Angelinas.
Some frequent eyes climb up to scan what hot on the window is, regulars hunt for new arrivals. Vijay (name changed) reveals that he has started hanging out recently, introduced to this sex joint by his friend, Iqbal who was fond of a typical mujra here. ‘Now, I come here all by myself, twice a month. I come to a particular place here to unwind. I feel good and comfortable here,’ he says.
The beat of the tabla is too inviting that guides your steps up inside, the scene is somewhat like Muzaffar Ali’s Umrao Jaan (adakara) with music dil cheez kya hai aap meri in the background also takes to the chartbuster Pakeezah’s hit track inhi logon ne le leena duppatta mera or yeh kya jageh hai dosto… etc.
A little closer inside is a collage of some favourite Gods stuck and pasted on the unhygienic and smutty walls. The ambience is salaciously lubricious. Inching closer are the briefcases and boxes concealing their transit worlds and loads of memories of their hometowns left for good rather than worse. This scene is replaced with one like come-to-bed, saucy salsa sort with some long legged lasses lasciviously wait, ready to go to bed with you for some tiny hundreds.
Evenings are hot and young with horny chicks with adorned faces sit huddled, and around them are lolling about their fair dark kids, just unaware of the blues their tomorrow holds for them in store. Their time begins with swarming customers for whom these sex workers ready themselves like a brand new bride every night and gird themselves for a new battle, wrapped in inviting sarees. Some prefer everyday’s casuals, and some teeny demoiselle dol up like a doll in their see- through attire and micro minis, some in low waist and snuggle fit calf length jeans and the stuff, they try all possible ways and tactics available under the sun to woo and seduce their clients.
Some even come down and prefer to wait in such a place where traffic is scanty, preferably in by-lanes. The clients, they say, come on their own and pick them up to a hotel, farmhouse or to some private place in the NCR. Some of the ‘kothewalis’ do not have to go outside as they have their own ‘dalals’ (pimps). These pimps fetch fat fellas striking a fab deal.
Rehana 22 (name changed) with just immaculate vital statistics and could communicate a little in the Queen’s language, fails to recall as to how long she has been there. “I was brought here by one uncle. He promised me a job but here I’ve earned myself a tag of a hi-fi callgirl and a brand prostitute. I prefer my clients to drive me off to some guest house or hotel in Paharganj for the night,” she said. Asked if she liked going out and having those sexual encounters every day, she replied, ‘I’ve to do even if I do not like. It depends upon the client, as to where he takes me to. Well, the Paharganj hotels are available for a night or two. There are few ‘decent’ and reasonable clients with whom I have stayed for even two consecutive nights.’
Collegewallah cool clients
Good clients to them are college goers who actually do not haggle too much, they pay properly before and after the ‘service’, they are cool and gentle throughout the service-hours.
Army men and policewallahs are the worst clients to handle with. ‘They come in groups, get the stuff and leave even without giving money. Some clients are pathetically frustrated and display rude and ruthless attitude. We know the way out for them,’ Bala, a sex worker affirms.
The pimps are actively in cahoots not only with bhais or local thugs but also with sahab log, division officer and constables on the beat.
There are thousands of sex-workers on GB Road, pimps work for them, some are their relatives but take a cut without fail. “Dhanda is dhandha, I too have my kids to feed, tell where I go if my sister neglects me,’ Bablu speaks. These pimps protect them as their guardians and they are smart to handle the ‘deal’ as they also maintain good ties with the local political leaders and the PS (Police Station) concerned. ‘Sex is sold sometimes at the lowest of rupees a hundred or two, the market recession does not affect us and in winters, it sails smooth, during festival times dhanda harvests a rich dividend. We easily earn at least Rs 1000 per night,’ Mehak (name changed on condition of anonymity) reveals.
Girl child is always welcome and celebrated. In the end, the tomorrow of these kids is bleak and barren and with shadow lines getting even darker, but they are used to hoping against hope.
By Syed wazid ali from New Delhi