Sex workers chronicle life in Indian brothels

An exclusive magazine for prostitutes is offering a snapshot of life in some of India’s biggest brothels, reporting the murky world of pimps and violent customers and showcasing the dreams and talents of sex workers.   ‘Red Light Despatch’, a monthly publication, is full of emotional outpourings of women sold to brothels as children, personal accounts of torture and harassment, poems and essays by prostitutes, book and film reviews and advocacy articles.

Health workers and prostitutes sit together once a week in a tiny newsroom located inside a brothel in India’s financial capital to discuss stories, headlines and the design of issues.   

The reporters, often themselves prostitutes or their relatives file their contribution after scouring the brothels of Mumbai, Kolkata and New Delhi and some smaller cities.   

“We choose the best stories for publishing,” said Rupa Metgudd, a news coordinator and daughter of a former prostitute, sifting through reports for the latest edition.

“The magazine is not a mere publication. For us it is journalism of purpose.”

Although prostitution is illegal in India, it is a thriving underground industry and voluntary groups estimate that there are about 2 million women sex workers.   

“Launched six months ago, the magazine is a platform for the collective memories, nostalgia and dreams of the sex worker community and an attempt to wean their children away from the profession,” said Editor Anurag Chaturvedi

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