I know Andy from a photographers’ group on Facebook. His current project is “Sex Workers of Kolkata” and the images and text displayed here are taken directly from his Facebook page.
Here is a link to Andy’s website: http://www.andyvc.com/sex-workers-in-kolkata/
Covering human trafficking in Kolkata has been one of the most challenging projects I have done so far. Approaching sex workers was very difficult. I was always followed by their “owners”. To talk with them is almost impossible. Women from all eyes can be found on the red light districts and parks. Travesties and women sell their bodies for $2; 30 minutes time. Used condoms can be seen all around the streets. Many of the condoms are available in small shops along the streets for 3 cent of USD. Some of them are absolutely fake.
Walking through the streets on the red light districts can be a real dangerous adventure. Sex workers will take you very strong from the arms. I was forced many times to get into buildings. Some times they understood I did not want anything and let me go, other times I was push and threatened of been kill. One time I was locket in a room with two sex workers who asked me for money. I had with me $5. After they took the money they asked me to have sex with them. My eyes were in the door, blocked with a stick. One started touching me, I push her away and asked her to please open the door. The adrenaline was on the top and I was starting losing control of the situation. Once they opened the door I walked slowly out of the room. One customer was having sex on the stairs with a young woman. “Please keep going, I am just leaving” I said. Could not find the way out. A building full of rooms, people started going out to see who I was… Pretending to be a costumer is not easy… “Do you want to fuck?” one woman asked me. “No, thank you”, “thanks” is not the best word to be used in that situation… one has to be a bit more inhuman, less polite, something like “fuck you”. But I said “thanks” she grabbed me from my t-shirt. At the end could manage to leave the building and found myself in a maze of streets… . These are normal obstacles a photographer can found covering such a story. However, the experience has been very sad. Many campaigns against human trafficking has been done with posters showing women tied in beds or locked in rooms using models (Many of these campaigns made by UN). Reality is not that, is worst and most of them are prisoners without being tied or locked.I let you with this young girl. Working since she was 10 years old, now with 17, she behaves as an adult in the sex industry, working 24 hours every single day…
To be born poor in India is one of the most saddest thing I have witnessed. There is a high risk to be exploited, especially if you are a women. “Agents” know very well the vulnerable situation in which many people live. Parents sell their children for around $50 to an “Agent” who them, will sell the girl to a “employer” for around $800. The “new life” is dirty and disgusting. It is a life of abuse and suffering.
This sex worker invited me to see the room where she works every day attending around 10 men per day in Kalighat, one of the oldest red light district in the city.
Not all keys open the door to freedom.
By Jim McKinniss