Red Light4 mins 246 4 mins 246
I gasped as I drove down the road. The dimly lit street lights were doing their jobs very well by hiding those who like to live in the shadows. My cameraman was trying his best to capture and all he was able to get was a face, with tired eyes, deep makeup and smile out of place, emerging as if slowly forming from the dark. Yet beautiful.
She must've been 16 or 17 and yet she was as professional as they come. For some reason I couldn't get her out of my mind and decided to interview her as my first candidate for a documentary on the Red Light Area.
I asked her name to begin with and it cost me Rs. 5000, just for her name. Her pimp, a man close to 40 years with a big belly and smell of sweat and paan masala and cigarette and alcohol all at the same time, made sure his 'business' was not off, no matter which way Radha spent the night.
Radha who was 16 years old, as I guessed, had come here in the India's biggest prostitution front 6 years ago with her elder sister. They were both sold by their father who could not afford to pay for their living anymore. Their mother had run away when she merely 6 years old due to her father, who would beat her everyday to half-dead in a drunken stupor.
Her sister was 13 years, a year after they came here when she was sold off to a wealthy merchant as kept. He paid a very hight amount for a "virgin". Radha never saw her sister again. Word has it that she died of aids as her buyer wanted a virgin as according to a myth having sex with virgins can cure aids. But Radha refuses to believe it. She believes she will find her some day.
When I asked her how old she was when she was asked to enter this business. Her reply gave me chills down my spine. She looked me in the eye, her eyes as bleak as it can be and a dead expression on her face and in her voice she said,
" I was 12 when I voluntarily entered the system. The dealer had a arrangement with my sister that she would send money for me every month and in return I would not be asked to do sex work. But for some reason, her money stopped after 2 months only. So did her letters. They don't give us a phone to contact the outside world. So... When I refused to enter the business, Raghu was not the one to take no for an answer. He said that it's okay, I don't need to sleep with clients, only him. I still remember the first time he took me. I did not understand fully what was going on. I had seen my sister crying most nights, every night Infact but did not know why. He would beat me till I was almost unconscious and they force himself on me. I would scream and he would enjoy that. Every night for 6 months, I endured him. If I would be sick he would get me treated and then rape me again. So, then one day another girl from here came to my room and saw my bruises. She said she had never seen anything so bad. And told me that the clients might be merciful and better than Raghu. I knew my sister was not returning and if I did not enter the competition I would either kill myself or Raghu would kill me. So, I volunteered. And since 12 years of age, I am pleasing dicks"
I was in tears as I don't know why but the glimpse of my safe and normal childhood flashed in front of my eyes and I could not yelp but feel her pain. But she was not trembling or crying or in dismay. Infact she was numb and emotionless.
So I made my documentary. For most in the room, Radha was an epitome of courage, valor, a fighter but in the end she was a story. A story that can easily be forgotten. But even if this is a story, we should remember that it can very well be true. Girls like Radha face ridicule in society. They don't have festivals as it is the boom time in their business. They don't want this life. Some try to escape, some succeed, some fail and some simply don't know what else to do so they never leave.
They are like us and they deserve a life too. Unless we step up and help them in any way we can, even a little acceptance goes a long way, their faces shall be lost forever, in the Red light.