New Internationalist

Shantanu Mukherjee

March 2008

A portrait of a young sex worker in Kolkata by Indian photographer Shantanu Mukherjee

Click to enlarge...

Sumi is a sex worker in Kolkata (Calcutta), India. She works and sleeps in this little room, under the charge of her landlady, Fatima, and she has to pay for her own upkeep. As one of the younger women, she is also treated as little more than a slave by the older sex workers in their domestic concerns.

Cross-border and domestic trafficking in young girls and lower-class women is a long-standing problem in India. One-time capital city Kolkata plays an important role in this flourishing trade, as it forms one of the major transit points for traffickers from Mumbai and Pakistan. The women are often passed off as distressed migrants seeking refuge in a new locale; many of them are born and brought up in utter poverty and they are often deserted by their husbands or willingly betrayed by them into the sex trade. Upon entering the profession, the women are bereft of all options. They are themselves participants in the intense social stigma that taints their work, and are unflinching in their belief of their own ‘fallenness’. Deprived of education, and suffering from malnutrition and a lack of adequate healthcare, they are reduced to little more than bonded labour.

Shantanu Mukherjee
By arrangement with Majority World

This column was published in the March 2008 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Comments on Shantanu Mukherjee

Leave your comment


  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Get our free fortnightly eNews


Videos from visionOntv’s globalviews channel.

Related articles

Recently in Southern Exposure

All Southern Exposure

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 409

New Internationalist Magazine issue 409
Issue 409

More articles from this issue

  • We have our FB-eye on you...

    March 1, 2008

  • The Sea Inside

    March 1, 2008

    The Sea Inside directed by Alejandro Amenábar

  • To fly or not to fly?

    March 1, 2008

    Aviation’s impact on climate change is disturbing. But what should we do about it? Chris Brazier interviews three campaigners – Adam Ma’anit, Mark Lynas and George Monbiot – and tries to decide.

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.