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Pushing the Boundaries

Enabling women in sex work to put forward their realities in their own voices


My Mother The Gharwali Her Maalak His Wife

Leena is a woman in sex work. Leena is also a woman in love with her rickshaw-driver prince, who is suddenly talking about riding off into the sunset alone. Unless, of course, Leena helps him buy a spanking new rickshaw. She waits for her lover, and she waits on her customer. Outside in the lane, the arrival of a goonda (thug) causes a flutter. The cop who chases him away, is also chasing a boy. My Mother, The Gharwali looks at 24 hours in the lives of the people who live in or pass through the galli (street) in which Leena lives. Hear them speak their own stories, talk their own tales and re-imagine their own realities. Staged in collaboration with SANGRAM and VAMP, My Mother, The Gharwali is the result of a 4 day theatre workshop conducted with 75 women in prostitution

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Are We Not Women?

Legalisation vs. abolition; coercion vs. consent; exploitation vs. empowerment - the debate around sex work in India has become increasingly polarised over the past decade. Are We Not Women? comprises a collection of dialogues between women in prostitution, feminist activists, and sex workers’ rights groups. Raising questions at every step -  If we have a right to the body, do we also have a right to sell our body? Who controls the womb? What does choice mean under forced circumstances? – Are We Not Women?, published together with SANGRAM, explores the shades, nuances, and lived realities of women in sex work.


Zinda Laash - Bollywood’s norms for Dhandewalis

Dhandewalis must smoke; paan is a must; a dhandewali can never escape her identity; dhandewalis must dress ‘differently’… Spanning over 6 decades of Bollywood cinema, Zinda Laash highlights how very little has changed across the ages when it comes to the industry’s representation of women in prostitution. Humorously drawing attention to stereotypes, while poignantly highlighting myths, Zinda Laash is a tribute to every sex worker who is not recognised as a woman or a human being.




The Struggle To Be Human

Even today women in sex work, in India at least, are seen as less than human. Not in the species sense, but in the more ordinary day to day sense of what it means to be human, to lead human lives. The Struggle To Be Human is a training manual produced in collaboration with SANGRAM that explores sex work through the lens of gender, sexuality and rights. Shaped and informed by the lived realities of sex workers, The Struggle To Be Human weaves together stories, games, films, and activities, to form a holistic and engaging advocacy tool.


Unzipped

Edited by Priya Jhaveri and Bishakha Datta, Unzipped brings together first-person accounts by three women and two men as they speak out about their lives in prostitution and outside it. Providing a worm’s-eye view of one of the most controversial occupations in the world, Unzipped bears testimony to the diverse and often contradictory realities of sex work.

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In The Flesh

Uma sits surrounded by stunning photographs from her youth, depicting her dancer’s gracefulness and theatrical stage presence. Bhaskar leans over towards his mirror in a slender red dress, applying mascara with exacting precision and skill to his long eyelashes. Shabana gestures towards the pictures on the walls of her ‘business’ room – from goddesses to calendars to Aishwarya Rai (who looks ‘just like her daughter’), the walls are brightly covered. In The Flesh is an intimate insider’s account of three lives in prostitution, and through precious glimpses and captured moments, aims to change public perception of women in sex work – from prostitutes to women.

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Of Veshyas, Vamps, Whores and Women

‘People should believe that they can change things. It is not about a few activists fighting for other people’s rights’ (Meena Seshu, general secretary of SANGRAM). Documenting the work of SANGRAM and VAMP, Of Vamps, Veshyas, Whores and Women challenges preconceived notions of both sex workers and HIV – by foregrounding the voices of the women themselves. The collective narratives of their struggles and strengths come together in a powerful testimony of their fight for the rights and dignities that other women enjoy.


 
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