Mobile sex workers spend holidays working in Sonagachi

Photo Jon Gresham

Sex workers leave home to work during the holidays: at least, according to one old tradition. It’s a way to enjoy a journey without spending too much money: take advantage of travellers and partygoers whose way of celebrating is to open their pocketbooks. Mobility is associated with many sectors of the sex industry; here, workers from around India converge on Kolkata. Another story, about changing prices in Sonagachi, the city’s enormous red-light district, receives hundreds of visits every day and numerous comments (some of which I prune.)

Sex workers major gainers this festive season
31 December 2009, Daily Times of India

Kolkata: The euphoric mood in the city over Christmas and the New Year has rubbed off on the world’s oldest profession. Sex workers from different states and West Bengal’s small towns and villages have descended in Kolkata to make a quick buck, while the locals are also minting more money.

North Kolkata’s red light area Sonagachi, considered Asia’s largest, has become the temporary residence of a large number of outstation sex workers. Every year from Christmas to New Year’s Eve, there is a sharp rise in number of sex workers coming from outside.

“Every year during Christmas and New Year, hundreds of sex workers from different parts of the country come to Sonagachi to earn more as during the festive season, there is a sharp rise in the number of customers. The sex workers from Sonagachi also move to other metros and cities,” said an official of Durbar Mahila Samannay Committee, one of the largest NGOs working in the city’s red light areas.

During the season, the income of a sex worker in Kolkata goes up by 50 percent.

Anju (name changed), a commercial sex worker, has come from a remote district in West Bengal to earn more so that she can bring up her three children who are back home in the safe custody of their grandmother. “Every year during New Year’s Eve I come to Kolkata with a hope to earn more so that I can bring up my children in a better way. The city has never deserted me,” she said.

– Laura Agustín, the Naked Anthropologist

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