Shaanti, 29, who identifies as a transgender lives and works at Kamathipura, Asia’s second largest red-light district.
The history of Mumbai’s oldest red light district dates back to 1889 when Britishers encouraged Anglo-Indian sex workers. It was also known as ‘safed (white) gulli’ and most of the clients were from the garrison. Today, there are so many brothels in the area that there is no space for the sex workers to sit. They hang around in the streets, solicit customers, and then rent an available bed.
Shaanti moved to Mumbai at the age of 7 and got into sex work around the age of 15.
“I have felt like a woman since my early childhood. When I became a hijra (transgeneder), no one in my family supported me.”
She is still in contact with them and sends them money when she can, as it is a custom in India.
“But they don’t know I’m a sex worker here. They think I have a proper job.”
When asked if she faces any kind of mental or physical abuse or discrimination due to her work, she told FSOG that she gets raped on an average of once a week.
“The police here aren’t helpful at all towards our community. They are used to treating us as outcasts with no rights.”
The level of violence against the LGBT community has increased after the reinstatement of Section 377 of the IPC and ITPA [Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act], which criminalizes homosexuality and sex-workers respectively.
We request you all to sign our petition to repel Section 377. It takes less than half a minute to make a difference worth a lifetime- click here.