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Where is the Awareness??

Sabaah*, a 27 year old woman with her face covered and only her eyes vulnerable to the world. Her house, well, nothing more than a dumping ground. A very low ceiling, just three zero watt bulbs, one gas stove, one battered folding bed and very little to eat.
The dirty street in which her "house", even if you could call it, was the only thing which had character. Still, she is not allowed to walk out without her face covered. The moral police of the village have condemned her from the normal facilities. A social boycott, if you call it! Her breath is fading with each passing day. But that doesn't make a difference to the "people" of her own village. For them she had been a thing to use and just like we throw away our stuff when it stops working, they threw her too.

She was a sex worker. How do I know about her? My cousin and I went to this village whose name cannot be disclosed here, to meet Sabaah. My cousin has come from some University in US to shoot a documentary on the situation and condition of Indian sex workers. So she got in touch with a NGO and they asked her to go meet Sabaah. Though my mother would not have liked me going to meet someone like her, she was just being protective, I wanted to go. I and my cousin reached that village.

I belong to a village even though I have never gone more than five times. I know that a village is full of joy and fresh vibrations. Not this one. We had to cover our faces as well so as to hide our identities from the men watching us with drooling eyes! The road was not made of coal. It was mud mixed with the sewer water coming out of the culverts. An extremely dirty place with an unbearable smell. Honestly, I was scared, probably a little skeptical about going to her house once we reached her house. After all, I belong to a dignified family and hasn't it always been told to me that girls of good families do not walk just like that to some "characterless" woman. No! Sabaah was not characterless.

My cousin(Gia) knocked the fragile wooden door. She came to open it. Her hands were rougher than those of my maid who washes utensils in more than ten houses. still, she welcomed both of us with a warm "Salaam".
Though she welcomed with tea in glasses that had turned brown, her eyes seemed to be crying for help. My cousin told me that Sabaah was a victim of HIV-AIDS. The conversation among the three of us was going to a very painful end. She told us both of us that the people of her village have denied her all basic facilities. They have even cut the water supply to her house. When asked by my cousin that she should fight against them, she replied that all her money had been wasted in her sister's diagnosis. She had a sister too?? Yes! Her younger sister who died of AIDS too. Both of them had gotten the syndrome from their mother who was also a sex worker.

Sabaah had no knowledge of something called "AIDS" before her sister died. She had no intention of continue working for men's hunger. But had to! For money, which she thought, would cure her sister. Life's not a hunky dory. Specially for these women. Her sister died and as soon as the news spread that she had AIDS, the villagers, some of whom are even educated...bloody educated illiterates...told her clearly, "Our way or the highway!"

Today she doesn't know when she will die. She wants to die soon. Her basic needs are being taken care of by the NGO who directed my cousin to meet her. Gia asked her, "What about the men who've had a one night stand with you?" A brave 27 year old, shattered by life and fate, replied with a smile, "I'm glad they had a one night stand with me. All of them have HIV."
This is OUR society. There is no protection. No love. No rights. No peace. People are just interested in using each other. When will the real India wake up?? When will we really have an equal life?? Being a sex worker is still a taboo. But having sex with a prostitute is still shoved under the carpet.

Sex workers are looked at in such a filthy way, while those who pay them for a night, never really get recognized. When the police catches them, why do they hide their faces??

While coming back home, my cousin summed the meeting and all the things we got to know in just three words.... "Mera Bharat Mahan".

[* name changed]


Tushar Mangl said…
But such are the dearies of life.

To think of it, so Many Sabaah's like these on this earth.

Do you know that in many parts of Asia, girls, under the age of 15 service clients in conditions, just like the house u described of Sabah.
Not even a bed or mattress. Just a sheet on the floor.

I hear of such things, write about them, and realize just one thing.
There is so much to do, in so little time.
SO damm much to do......
Si_Lee said…
no no .. dont sum it up as Mera Bharat mahan . Do not make such a big generalisation . Visiting a prostitute is considered a taboo by many families, and some others are the hypocrites you just described . Differentiate between which traits are associated with a nation and which with an individual.
that said ... I have always said make prostitution legal.... and give the rights like laborers have ... you anyway cannot stop it even though its illegal .. atleast empower them ...
Kartz said…
Before I post my own comment, here is a comment from a certain Ms. Chitrana Jain. She was unable to post comments - Blogger choked. So, here I am, trying to post this on her behalf...

Well, i wish we could stop prostitution but like someone above me mentioned.. might as well make it legal and give them all the rights they deserve.

I'm not a good person to comment on this anyway,
cuz when i read such articles or posts, i just feel like hanging all the men to death! I dont know.. i better not say much..

I wish i could do something about it.. Tushar, remember the book? i wish we could publish it..

A lot of awareness to be spread..

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