Sex workers in Kolkata's Sonagachi tie Rakhis to passers-by on Raksha Bandhan

Sex workers in Kolkata's Sonagachi tie Rakhis to passers-by on Raksha Bandhan in hopes of erasing societal divisions and claiming respect.
Sex workers in Kolkata's Sonagachi tie Rakhis to passers-by on Raksha Bandhan

Kolkata (West Bengal) | In the hope of erasing all societal divisions and claiming respect in society, sex workers in north Kolkata's red light area Sonagachi tied Rakhi on the wrist of passers-by on Raksha Bandhan day. The event was organised by the Durbar Mahila Samanvaya Committee, one of the largest community-based organisations of sex workers in West Bengal.

"We have organised this event for all sex worker sisters on the occasion of Rakhi. We are organising this event every year...We will be doing this next year as well," Marjina Bibi, a sex worker associated with the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee said.

Bishakha Laskar who is the Secretary of the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee said that rakhis are tied to passers-by without any discrimination.

"This is a festival to celebrate the relationship between brothers and sisters. Throughout the year we pray for our brother's safety and wait for tying the Rakhi next year. Every sister out of their own free will is tying rakhis to the passersby without any discrimination," Bishakha Laskar, who is also a sex worker said.

Speaking on the eventful day, she said, "We are happy because this is an auspicious day. This is a day for brothers and sisters. Rakhi comes only once every year. We have eaten sweets given by our brothers. Our brothers gave us gifts. We will also go out for an outing. Today the entire day is for our brothers."

Bishakha Laskar pointed out that there are no divisions on the basis of caste or religion among the sex workers and all are women and humans first.

"We are for every festivity, for every religion. We want happiness for all every year. There is no divide on the basis on caste or religion in the sex workers. They are all women, all humans. There are Hindus, Muslims, Christians. We want to make everyone feel happy," she said.

Speaking about the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee she said, "We

have been active in this area since the 1990s. We organise various programs like this every year. We will organise a program for Bhai Phota, for Holi."

"We are feeling proud that we can organise such a program on such a large scale for all sex workers. We are the representative of 40000 sex workers, we are happy for them," she added.

Ashok Kumar Singh, the Head of Department at Shree Vishudhanand Hospital in Kolkata said, "This is a very happy occasion for all of us. Our sisters called us on the same stage without any discrimination on the basis of caste, religion...The love we have received from our sisters will be cherished forever."

Promising to stand by their sisters at all times, Ashok Kumar Singh said, "We will respect the silk thread that they have tied on our wrists at all times. We will support our sisters who are into sex work, at all times. We will work for their sake day in and day out."

"We have been coming here since the 90s when our founder established this Committee. People associated with literature, plays and journalists from every caste or religion come here on this day, interact with women and get their love. We wait for this day throughout the year to meet our sisters and get rakhis tied," he added.

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