Monday, 21 January 2008
Joining the long list of films based on sex-workers will be "Laaga Chunari Mein Daag" that is slated for Friday release.
The film, being produced by Bollywood's biggest dream merchants Yash Raj Films, hopes to push the envelope further by portraying the life of a small town girl who willingly chooses sex trade as a career.
Hindi cinema's interpretation of the so-called oldest profession in the world has been ever evolving. While earliest films like "Pyaasa" painted a picture of abject tragedy, films like "Umrao Jaan", "Pakeezah" and "Devdas" depicted courtesans as women with refined sense of music and poetry. Their exploitation was often glossed over and they came across as tragic, gorgeous women of taste who sacrificed their lives for the men they loved.
Shoma A. Chatterji, author of "Woman: A Study of the Portrayal of Women in Indian Cinema", explains that the virtual domination of male filmmakers in Bollywood then had meant that patriarchy and markets dictated how sex-workers and the politics of prostitution are projected in the Hindi film industry.
More recently, Madhur Bhandarkar's "Chandni Bar", Sudhir Mishra's "Chameli", Manisha Koirala's "Market", Deepak Shivdasani's "Julie" and Kalpana Lazmi's "Chingaari" have tried to demystify and deglamourise the lives of sex workers.
In "Chandini Bar", Tabu performed the sexy dance sequences inside the club much like any mechanical, routine job and worked hard to educate her child. Kareena Kapoor in "Chameli" was a foul-mouthed young woman, who is cynical about relationships but knows how to invest her hard-earned money for a secure future. For all her curtness she still has a soft side to her as she tries to educate a young boy and prevents him from taking to vices like smoking.
In fact, with the exception of Rehana Sultan in B.R. Ishara's "Chetna" and Shabana Azmi in Shyam Benegal's "Mandi", nearly all celluloid versions of sex-workers have been self-sacrificing and victims of circumstances, and in spite of claims to the otherwise "Laga Chunari Mein Daag" may end up being no different.
In the film, Rani Mukerji is a middle-class, fun-loving and happy-go-lucky girl in Banaras who takes to prostitution. Director Pradeep Sarkar of "Parineeta" fame cites financial crisis in the family as the reason for her to "make the sacrifice". Clearly, the filmmaker wants to add a touch of nobility to defuse the stigmatised profession.
There are two million women sex workers in India with most coerced into the trade by abduction or deception. An estimated two in five sex workers are below 18 years of age. Those involved in the sex trade are demanding the legalisation of the profession. They claim that a legal status will bring the multi-million dollar industry out of the dark, improve the living conditions of the women and their children, fight HIV/AIDS and prevent induction of children into the trade.
But such serious issues hardly ever find mention in our Hindi films. Here is hoping that come Friday and "Laaga Chunari Mein Daag" will up the level of discourse and not remain merely a reminder of the pathos of Waheeda Rahman in "Pyaasa".
Actress-turned-filmmaker Revathi says: "I met many commercial sex workers. Spoke at length with them. I realise now that there is no point in telling them to not get involved in it. Instead, you should ensure they are not exploited by middle men and their basic rights of health care and education for their children are met with."
For Rani Mukerji, who missed bagging the coveted National Award for her performance in "Black" by a whisker, "Laaga Chunari Mein Daag" offers a second chance.
The act of a sex-worker has fetched the coveted award for many leading ladies in the past. Yesteryears star Sharmila Tagore was bestowed the National Award for walking the street in "Mausam", Rekha had got it for her courtesan role in "Umrao Jaan" and recently Tabu had bagged the prize for "Chandni Bar".
Vyjantimala's role of a golden-hearted courtesan in Bimal Roy's "Devdas" and Shabana Azmi's no-holds-bar act as a woman who wants sex trade to flourish in Shyam Benegal's "Mandi" have been other memorable performances. Rani would no doubt be hoping that her act is similarly recognised.
The film also stars critically acclaimed female actor Konkana Sen and veteran Jaya Bachchan in a pivotal role. The men in the film include Abhishek Bachchan, Kunal Kapoor and Anupam Kher.
Abhishek and Rani, who had emerged as a hit pair after "Bunty Aur Babli", will be seen together on-screen after a long gap. Though both have not had much commercial success lately, the film is more crucial for Rani.
It remains to be seen whether she can deliver once again both commercially and critically.
Friday, 18 January 2008
But finally that day came when he revealed that he must go to the mindir, I loved him too much to let him go. , we would spend a lot of time together, he got me job at his uncle's firm, they all treated me with respect although I was a Sikh, and all of them were hindu, they were so nice to me. I felt wanted and at home with me boyfriends family. We saw each other for over two year's(all through college) and then came the time for me to leave my home and go to university, I went out of town a good few hours away, I wanted to live as far as away from my family as possible, as they were the obstacle, in my life from him. I always wore my Kara and my gold khanda necklace. I also stopped going to the Gurdwara, because I did not want to offend him, and I would use that time instead to be with him. I loved him and would do anything for him, anything. At university. Things got a bit serious, I lived in halls, This was a really good experience for me, and I felt vulnerable and weak. Things started to change a lot during the first few weeks at university. I quit uni, and moved into a flat with him, he got me another job, and again his cousin helped us financially. I never told my parents that I had done this, they would phone me, I would say everything was going excellent, and I would lie to them. During this time, I started to stop going home, I would say that I had too much uni work to do, and so I couldn't come home.Then,I stopped answering my phone from my family and friends, because I knew all they would say is to stop seeing him, and come home etc.so I changed my number, that's not the only thing I changed, a few months later I changed my name! We were happy together, we were in love, and we were made for each other. I was happy then to finally be apart of something that was so great, everyone loved me, and I was finally at home and peace.
I am about to tell you, is no exaggeration in any way, this is exactly how it happened, and the metropolitan police are well aware of it. Whilst I was on the flight over to india, I was so excited, I was finally going to get married to the love of my Life.When we reached india, there were a few people there to greet us, They were so happy to see me. We were then herded into a 4x4. We then stopped at what seemed to be a police station or the local sheriff's office, the luggage was taken out of the jeep, and
these men came and took the luggage away,jags came over and took my personal belongings, everything, my passport, money even my toothbrush, he said come out sikhini the hindu wanted to see your sikhi, in case.I remember laughing at first, but when looked at his face, but i said you are all sikhs this india its our country.he smiled and said this a hindu country and we are hindus.he was deadly serious, I gave him everything to him and then I was taken to a room, where I was told to wait.
They were talking to jags it seemed like ages, while I waited in that room, on my own. I was getting very worried for jags. During this time, two more cars and a jeep had come to this place station. Finally, a middle aged man came over and started to ask
me personal questions. I had trouble understanding what he was saying, he spoke so fast, in hindi. I kept asking him to take me to jags. He said "jags has gone", those three words stopped my heart beating, I was alone in a remote village in
with no belongings and locked up a room. I did not know what to think?
What was happening? This was not supposed to happen?
Where had jags gone? I cried, and pleaded with the men there to take me to delhi, they would
simply laugh at me and beat me say hindustan zindabad i never understood.
a few days, I did not eat or sleep, I was disorientated, and I did not know what to do? I became ill, I was very weak, a doctor was called, he gave me some medicine, with which all I did was sleep. The next thing I remember was, when I woke up in a room, with a small barred window, and a small door. This door was locked from the outside, I started to scream, a women came rushing over. I was relieved for a moment that women had come over to my aid, until she started to shout at me and curse me. I didn't know what was going on. I just sat there in that small, cold room, with blank mind. They would give some bread and water three times a day. I was allowed to go to the toilet only once a day.
By now I had realized, I was not going home and
jags was not coming to my rescue. The building I stayed at was 3 storeys, and was very big. It must have had more than 30 rooms. It was the only building there, there was nothing
anywhere around this building, just fields and 1 tarmac road. It was a brothel.
I was not a lone there were 10 other girls (Sikh) that were in the same situation as me. We were all kept on the top floor, we were all given one room each. The other girls had been there longer than me, we would get a chance to speak during the night. They told me of their stories and how they got here, they sounded
familiar. It would be very cold during the night. They told me, on the 3rd day, what happens here. This where, the shiv sena members and locals came to enjoy themselves. I was very frightened. This is where they would come to quench their desires. I remember how they treated us, they would treat us like animals, they would rape us, and then spit on our faces after they were done.they will always say were is guru nanak or gobinb singh now and other stuff which i never understood.my dad was an exindian army and so was my grand father they always told me to beloyal to india.but this not place tolove we all found out.It was a living
nightmare, with no escape. I spent 15 months here, over that period of time,
I have seen 36 more girls been brought here, I have seen 7 commit suicide, by jumping of the building and 20 odd taken away by rich businessmen who would use them in their own brothels. I saw and lived in HELL, I saw young girls being
raped, I heard the screams of these girls and their
frustration, that no one would help them. When I first saw the police approach the building, I thought that we had been saved, was I proved wrong, they beat a girl to death right in front of us all, to show us who was in charge, and what would happen if we didn't co-operate. If you think for a second, that what I am saying is lies, go and approach the Scotland Yard, they have the full details of who the girls were and where they were from. I saw this with my own eyes, and no-one ever helped us.
A time came when me and another girl, got the opportunity to escape, we had been taken to a local tribesman's house, a fight had broken out, in his house, in the confusion Guru ji gave us an opportunity to escape, we took a jeep, and set out on the roads, we didn't know where we were going, we just went, where ever the road took us. We got close to a town Called Eminabad, here we informed the police of what had happened to us, they helped us, we were handed over to the British embassy and sent back to the UK. Once back in the UK, the police tried to hand us back to our families, OUR OWN families had disowned us, my family told me to go away, that I had brought shame to the family name, I tried to apologise, and they would not accept it.
I even tried to get help
From the Gurdwara, they said they could not help us. We had to go back to the police, who then put us in a witness protection program.
The year is 2003, I was then 21. We both were given a new chance to start a fresh, the police helped us a great deal. In the program we were given a place to stay and they gave us new jobs, to rebuild our lives. I am now 25, married and a 3 year old girl. I re-initiated into Sikhism in 1998, me and my friend, we took Amrit and took an active role to combat what had happened to us and help others in the same situation.
There is not a single second that goes by, without me thinking about those poor girls locked up in india. I have
been scarred for life. But I must do everything I can to try to create awareness to help those girls that scream every night and go through that abuse. I am thankful to the Police who are trying to help those girls, but I think we as a community need to do much more. We must come out of hiding, and face the danger these girls now face. But what we find is a really negative attitude employed by all parties, the families, Gurdwara and the girls, to do anything about this. I know what happened to me and what is still happening to those that are in india. Accordingly to the latest figures, there are 300 girls there right now, facing constant abuse, who are getting drugged up everyday and then raped. One of them is your relative!! Just keep that in mind, your cousin who you have not seen for over 3 years, went to university and never came back! When you ask your uncle and auntie, where is your cousin who you nor your family have seen for so long, you get the reply, that she has brought a house there and she has found herself a good job, and so she is constantly busy. I beg you please stop these lies, please help my sisters’ in india, who no-one helps, their families are too scared, or they don't know where she is? We must put a stop to this, I saw what is happening there, believe me, I do not even wish this to happen my enemies, when you see a young girl being raped by savages, who beat her and then spit on her you remember God, believe me when all you can hear is her screams to stop and her cry for help all you can do is watch. Those girls need your help! I pray all the time to Guru, to please help, those girls, every time I get the chance. We must make sure not a single girl goes to that living Hell from today. We must educate every one of our girls and boys about our religion. We must take it upon our selves to educate ourselves and our own families about Sikhism and the dangers it faces constantly. We must thrive to make sure this never happens to any of our girls ever again. I hope Guru Ji helps us. I hope you at least help yourself and your own family. I hope all those that took those poor girls over to Pakistan, realise that God is within us all, and not just in the heavens, I wish they could just imagine for 1 single second, that one of those girls was their own sister! No one would ever want this to happen to anyone, believe me. We have altered the above account to safe guard our source. The name and locations have been changed and how our penji escaped has been changed dramatically for the simple reason not to jeopardise any other girls opportunity to escape.
Saturday, 12 January 2008
Chandigarh, which till a few years ago held on to middle class values, is fast emerging as a new sex destination. Considered a regional hub of sex trade, the city has recorded an unprecedented rise in this business. In the past couple of months, the Chandigarh police has arrested more than 30 call girls and pimps.
"There is a massive demand and equally easy recruitment of new girls (mostly willing) into the trade," discloses a woman who was in the business.
"The Chandigarh flesh trade market offers a mind-boggling variety — girls from different age groups and strata, gigolos, gays, lesbians, keeps as well as temporary partners," she says.
According to this former call girl, the sex trade in the city is proportionately higher than that in any of the metropolitan cities — Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta and Chennai.
While some girls are forced into this profession because of financial reasons, the others go into ‘business’ to meet their aspirations of what they consider a ‘good life.’
In fact, the stereotypical image of sex workers being pushed into the trade by vile gangs of pimps to satisfy repressed male sexual needs has undergone a change. If statements made by arrested sex workers are to be believed, a good percentage of the current crop of urban prostitutes who are "doing well" are into the profession of their own free will. Of course, many of them are also lured or forced into the racket but the number of such cases is declining.
Moreover, it is claimed that the typical pimp has to a large extent been replaced by a superior species. Nowadays, influential persons — police officers, bureaucrats, businessmen and politicians — are filling in the slot. They recruit girls, with dreams of mega bucks, for extending favours to those whom they want to please. Such girls, many times, enter the circuit for a very short time and exit when they have made the moolah they wanted to. In Chandigarh, most of these girls cater to this powerful nexus of businessmen-politicians-bureaucrats.
The racket in such cases is run as disguised prostitution. Girls are usually hired as office employees and are offered to clients and others to curry favours. An undergraduate girl who agrees to use her charms for the employer can get a salary in the range of Rs 7,000 to 10,000, while one who is on the regular rolls may not cross Rs 5,000 a month, discloses a girl who was doled out a "proposition to please" when she took up her job.
The girl says employers prefer single girls to those living with families for this purpose, and girls from outside the city fit the bill perfectly.
But there is a "willing" section of girls in the city who take up a job only to look for an opportunity to get out of the house and carry on the business. Many students too fall in this category.
The money involved in the business is enormous. Girls brought on contract from Delhi, Mumbai and other areas of the country are getting between Rs 25,000 and Rs 80,000 per trip according to their age, qualification and looks. These girls, interestingly and ironically, seek to gain social acceptability and status with their earnings.
Social scientist Pramod Kumar, Director of the Institute of Development and Communication, Chandigarh, says the trade is growing as there is a struggle for supremacy. He says that men traditionally used their muscle to enjoy power. But today, women have realised that their beauty and body could provide them strength and power. There is also no ideology (idea, value and purpose) available today to accommodate changing needs of an individual and society.
While in India prostitution is banned, in many parts of the world it is not so. An ILO report in 1998 had quantified the sex industry to be ranging between two and 14 per cent of the GDP in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, whereas shares of Daily Planet Brothel in Melbourne, Australia, are being listed on the Australian Stock Exchange since 2003. The World Bank even offered a financial package for the sex workers of Thailand. A prostitute is now called a sex worker. This is in recognition of her activity as an economic activity that can be considered productive.
Feminists’ position towards prostitution is divided: while some define prostitution as an act of self-determination and demand destigmatisation and decriminalisation, others consider it to be sexual abuse and rape. Feminists belonging to the former group pushed a law reform in Germany, resulting in the country recognising prostitution as a regular profession in January 2002. This made it possible for prostitutes to join social security and health care systems and form trade unions.
Furthermore, there seems to be a weakening of resistance against the unacceptability of multiple partners. Advertisement of condoms for family planning and AIDS openly say the use of condom is necessary for sexual intercourse with a stranger or a partner other than your wife. It does not question extra-marital relationships.
In the city, the state AIDS control survey estimates commercial sex workers to be around 3,224. Many of them are entertainment workers and beauty saloon employees.
Pramod Kumar says in the present times, when values and culture are in a state of flux, the new generation is emulating icons from the world of glamour like beauty queens and film actresses who now openly declare that there is nothing wrong in exposing one’s body. To consider the body as a source of power takes the logic to the next stage, where it is not deemed wrong to offer the body for pleasure and money. This ‘philosophical’ framework provides an opportunity to the so-called modern girls to accept prostitution.
Dr Rajesh Gill, Reader in the Department of Sociology, Panjab University, says she had conducted a study in Palsora Colony, where sex trade is rampant. She learnt of a mother who had pushed her 14-year-old daughter into the trade and a number of men who "offered" their wives for money. "The metropolitan anonymity now available in the city is providing an opportunity to girls to slip into the trade," she says, adding that the city has now become infamous for flesh trade and a girl sitting alone near a bus stop may have to face an awkward situation as she may be mistaken for a sex worker.
Dr Gill says the Punjabi girl has been projected as a commodity in video numbers with semi-clad girls dancing with a Punjabi male. This image, she says, has created a demand for them.
Interview with a "call girl"
How rampant is the trade in the city?
It seems it is on a larger scale here than in Delhi and Mumbai.
What kind of girls are coming into the trade?
From the very poor to the rich and famous; and mostly those living alone.
How much do they earn?
Those who work with "aunties and uncles" earn between Rs 15,000 and 25,000 per day. Those on contract earn even a higher amount.
Who are the customers?
Policemen, bureaucrats, businessmen, politicians, professionals, tourists, etc. These clients look for new girls and high-class call girls, including models. They are ready to spend Rs 30,000 for a day also.
How many girls enter the profession willingly?
About 50 per cent.
How many of them get married?
More than 50 per cent.
It is said a girl on contract has to cater to many clients in a day.
Most of these girls use drugs.
Where do these girls come from?
Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Haryana, Delhi and even Mumbai. They are from respectable families.
How much does a pimp earn?
It can be as high as Rs 3.5 lakh a month.
How are these pims?
HINDU FROM OTHER STATES.
Wednesday, 9 January 2008
By Amanpreet Kaur
I am Amanpreet Kaur, a 22 year old girl born in Ludhiana, Punjab. When I was 19, studying BCA, I fell in love with a Hindu boy named Sameer. We would talk for hours and it was clear that he loved me back. We would always talk about living a happy life together but never really discussed religion.
Religion is a big part of life in India. Indians are very religious people. My family was religious but they hardly told me anything about Sikhism. Everything I learned about Sikhism was from the school in which I studied ‘till twelfth grade. I knew about Guru Nanak Dev Ji and his teachings and that Sikhs are to worship one God only. I knew a little bit of the history, Sikhs fighting with Muslim emperor Aurengzeb to save Hindus. But little did I knew about differences between Sikhism and Hinduism. All I knew was Sikhs do not believe in caste system and do not worship Hindu Gods like Brahma, Krishan, Ganesh, Durga, Kali etc, as mukti (salvation) can only be attained through the meditation on One God, who is above all.
Sameer told me that I do not have to convert to Hinduism in order to marry him. He told me that I can still practice Sikhism if I wanted to. Marrying a Hindu didn’t seem a big of deal to me but my parents told me that I should marry someone with the similar belief system, a Sikh. There arose a huge fight in our family but blinded by love I insisted to marry Sameer only.
Anyway, we got married. Our marriage was conduct according to Hindu marriage ceremony. Everything was going well for the first couple of weeks until his parents started forcing me to do Durga Puja (worship). I resisted but they said it is the practice of their family and I have to do it. I told Sameer and found him surprisingly in agreement with his parents. He said I can perform Sikh practices but being in their family I have to do Durga Puja.
The conflict started arising not only because of Durga Puja but also due to daily Hindu rituals. For example always referring to Hindu Gods while talking, fasting for certain periods, considering fire as sacred, and much more.
They kept forcing me and taunting me and I started performing Durga Puja. I felt very awkward worshipping the stone statue of Durga. One day I decided to search the online version of Guru Granth Sahib about what my Guru says about performing other worships. I found out that Guru Ji condemns the worship of anyone else except God.
As I read more and more of Guru Granth Sahib and some of the articles written by Sikhs, my eyes lit and I was amazed that my Guru offers such beautiful and true teaching. I felt embarrassed for not knowing it until now. Everything a girl could ever imagine is in Sikhism. Guru ji gave women equal status as of men, equal rights and self-respect. My Guru made me a princess by giving me the last name, Kaur. I felt really ashamed and embarrassed having betrayed my Guru.
The next morning I told Sameer that I will no longer perform Durga Puja. When my mother-in-law heard this from Sameer, she became furious and started cursing me. And started telling Sameer that he should leave me. That morning I did not perform Durga Puja. One day Sameer came home and told me to get ready. I asked him the reason and he said it is a surprise. I had no idea where he was taking me until he took me to a mandir (Hindu Temple). He had tricked me to go to the mandir to do Durga Puja. I refused to get out of the car. He kept trying and even tried to drag me. Watching my resistance, he became furious and drove back home. He did not say a word and when we went in our room he slapped me. The slap was so unexpected and hard that I fell on the ground. I started crying and he started yelling. I wept for the whole night.
Slowly our marriage grew apart and we got divorced. I still regret my decision of getting married to Sameer. Sometimes our emotions make us blind and all we want to see is what suits our eyes and we ignore everything else, unaware of what we ignored will come back to haunt us. My advice to all Sikh girls is to marry a Sikh so that there would be no room for religious conflicts.
Please do not ignore this message being sent out to you. The following is chilling and distressing but the time has come now to take drastic action. The following is NOT to insight racial hatred, but to highlight the major problems a MINOR few extremists are having on a the UK community and their human rights.
Young girls from the ages of 13-22 of Sikh, are being targeted,harassed,drugged,
They are GETTING AWAY with this as threats against their families are buying them their freedom to do this.
This is not a message solely for awareness. This is a message for action.
We need to NETWORK across the UK and STOP THIS NOW. Involving the police has had no real impact to date.Pressure for awareness must be applied.
We need you to contact us with any problems that you, your family, friend even your neighbour is having. It may seem innocent to you BUT boys are being PAID by much deep rooted extremists to collect non-hindu girls for future prostitution. THIS COULD BE YOUR YOUNGER OR OLDER SISTER IN THE FUTURE.
MAKE A STOP TO IT NOW.
CONTACT US WITH ANY INFORMATION OR HELP YOU REQUIRE.
CONTACT US IF YOU ARE WORRIED ABOUT SOMEONE YOU KNOW.
CONTACT US IF YOU KNOW ANYONE THAT PRACTICES IN SUCH BEHAVIOUR.
THIS IS ALL CONFIDENTIAL AND WE WILL HELP YOU KNOW MATTER WHERE YOU ARE.
THESE MATTERS WILL BE DEALT WITH AND SUCH PEOPLE CAN NOT GET AWAY WITH IT.
WAYS TO STOP SUCH VULNERABILITY:
WARN youngsters, they need to the knowlege of this to be aware of it.
Pay an interest in what your friends, sisters and cousins are doing and who they talk to. They may be extremely vulnerable without you knowing it. BE aware of their school situations, some schools are HOTSPOTS. Not only INSIDE the schools, but also older boys/men roam outside colleges and schools in cars with the sole aim to start relationships. The abuse follows this together were pictures used for blackmailing.
Be extremely careful of websites such as Hi5 and MySpace, some men pose there as Sikhs to talk to and meet girls. MAKE SURE THEY ARE AWARE OF THIS AND NEVER MEET ANYONE OFF THE INTERNET. This also applies to certain non-Sikhs wearing Kara in clubs and also in the streets.
Drug Rape Drug
A common entrapment method; do not leave your drink unattended in bars/clubs.
Be vigilant with ANYONE that you feel is in contact with youngsters for the wrong reasons, do NOT sit back and watch it happen.
THIS IS NOT JUST ABOUT SIKHS, WHITE AND HINDUS GIRLS ARE BEING TARGETED ALSO. ALWAYS BE WARY.
The time of waiting around and ‘hoping’ somebody else will stop this has come to an end.