This is another story of how attempts to get rid of prostitution result in changes, not eradication, as people adapt to the new conditions. Baina, a tradtional red-light district in Goa’s port city of Vasco, was flattened by city authorities five years ago, and now what was contained in a small area seems to Goans to be everywhere! Excerpts from The Times of India and highlights by me.
The Times of India
10 Jun 2009
. . . Baina’s dingy rooms have given way to fancy cubicles in massage parlours and air-conditioned rooms in starred hotels. Taxi drivers and motorcycle pilots as contact points have made way for waiters, chai boys and beach hawkers. The modus operandi too has adapted to the needs of the solicitors and the solicited.
With the contact point shifting from the cramped lanes in Baina to just about everywhere: beaches, parlours, hotels, lodges, bars, restaurants, streets, markets, even fishing trawlers, the modus operandi nowadays is to pre-arrange a meeting point for the customer and the girl. Alternatively, women are also sent to certain areas to directly solicit, finds a study by Baina-based NGO, Arz.
The 2007-08 study, whose findings will be released soon, focused on Goa’s prostitution phenomenon after the demolition of Baina and the closure of dance bars in Mumbai. Information was collected by talking to sex workers, pimps, legislators, government authorities, hoteliers etc. The study reports that nowadays, it is not uncommon to find girls, including foreigners, soliciting on beaches, bars, restaurants, shacks and even at tourist bazaars.
Another common meeting point are night clubs where couple entry is the rule. Some girls solicit around major crossroads, traffic circles, junctions, gardens and bus stands. . .
. . . “After the demolition in Baina, prostitution has spread all over the state,” says Dr Pramod Salgaonkar, chairperson, Goa State Commission for Women. “While middle-budget prostitution is flourishing in the tourist belt in the form of massage parlours, prostitution along highways, hotels and houses is also on the increase,” she adds. Arun Pandey of Arz, says, “The Baina demolition has led to an escalation in highway prostitution, prostitution in isolated places like jungles and prostitution in vehicles (private four wheelers).”
“There is an increased vulnerability of women and children in prostitution to forced sex acts and rapes. Clients would not be able to film prostituted women and children or have group sex in a brothel. Now this is possible,” he adds.
Goa police’s public information officer SP AV Deshpande calls it “old wine in a new bottle”. “The business is the same. But girls are now better educated and pimps are using the latest technology to operate and attract high paying clients. The business has become more sophisticated.”
* Information from study: Trafficking for Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Goa, by Baina-based NGO, Arz
– Laura Agustín, the Naked Anthropologist