KOLKATA: The tradition of collecting earth from brothel areas by sculptors to be mixed in the clay used for making images of Goddess Durga has been opposed by sex workers here. “Sex workers who are our members as well as others have turned against this practice, which makes them feel stigmatised. It was a spontaneous decision,” said Dr Smarajit Jana, chief adviser of Durbar Mahila Samanya Committee (DBMS), the apex NGO of sex workers. As per the belief, the client of a sex worker leaves behind all virtues and takes only sins inside when he enters a brothel. So the soil outside is full of virtue and fit for use in making images of Hindu Goddess, Durga.
“The women had resented this practice for the past few years, but they have put their foot down firmly this time. They feel demeaned,” Jana said.
Ratna Barik, a sex worker and an executive member of Durbar, which has over 65,000 members in Kolkata’s largest redlight district of Sonagachi, recollected “this has been taking place for years. But enough is enough. We have opposed it this year.”
Speaking out against the tradition, former secretary of Durbar and a sex worker, Swapna Gayen said, “This practice will not help in changing the attitude of society towards us. So why should we allow this?”
Earlier Durbar Mahila Samanya Committee (DBMS) also attempted to respond to the Indian elections holistically. They lobbied for sex workers to be involved in the election process and they used the opportunity to highlight sex worker demands to political parties and society at large. They approached the chief electoral officer to create the space for sex worker involvement. Six sex workers in this region will be working at polling booths during the elections. The DMSC heralds this as a step in the right direction in recognizing sex workers as equal citizens. In addition the DSMC have been demanding, from political parties, that sex work be seen as work. Sex workers have placed a charter of demands before each political party in the region.
Durga is depicted as a powerful goddess, riding a raging lion, holding aloft ten weapons of war in her ten hands. Durga Puja is the biggest Hindu festival in Bengal. Hindu extremist organizations like RSS promotes Durga Puja iin areas where none whatsoever existed previously. They conduct Durga puja as public demonstrations of its vision of Hindu cultural assertion which was blamed for sparking communal riots. The deep in roads made by the Sangh Parivar into the tribal belts using simillar rituals has been a source of some concern in the democratic circles.
More at http://www.durbar.org/