At the entrace of the marquee in North Kolkata’s Ahiritola, the tastefully done graffiti and other installations convey the untold story of the sex workers.
The street art vividly represents the journey of a sex worker, beginning with three women peeping from behind a door to a distorted ‘kumkum line’ (vermillion) on a woman’s forehead to signify her tragic life.
“We are very happy that these people thought of us. Like Ma Durga, we are also women and part of society. Due to this initiative, we have been able to mix with everyone,” said Kajol Bose, a member of Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee that is an exclusive forum for sex workers.
Its members present on the occasion were visibly happy when the graffiti was unveiled, setting the mood for the 10-day festival. The women expressed their joy and gratitude by gracefully dancing to the beats of ‘dhaak’ (drums).
The puja committee has come up with a theme of ‘Utsarito Alo’ (Streaming Light) to showcase respect that sex workers deserve and to support their demand for working rights.
Committee Working President Uttam Saha said: “For ages, our orthodox society has neglected sex workers. As human beings, we fail to realise that they too are someone’s mothers or sisters. They do not deserve torture or hatred.
“They spend their lives in silence, and face humiliation and rejection. We are hence determined to support the journey of these sex workers with a pledge to ensure basic rights to them so that they can live with their heads held high,” a committee member said.