Prostitution in Kolkata
The total number of prostitutes in Kolkata is unknown. Some estimates state that there are more than 60,000 brothel-based women and girls in prostitution in Kolkata.
The population of prostitutes in Sonagachi constitutes mainly of Nepalese, Indians and Bangladeshis. Some sources estimate that are 30,000 Bangladeshi women in the brothels of Kolkata.
According to some sources the most common form of trafficking consists in offering false promises or some offer of help out of a dead-end or crisis situation, force is used later after the prostitutes have already been sold. "Mashis (brothel owners/older sex workers) use friendship, sympathy, also veiled threats to convince the women that it is now in their best interest to conform and begin working.
The largest red-light district in Kolkata is Sonagachi. The area came to be known as Sona Gachi from a sufi saint Sona Ghazi whose tomb (mazaar) is located in the locality. It is an area with several hundred multi-story brothels, and around 10,000 sex workers. Sonagachi is located in North-Kolkata near the intersection of Chittaranjan Avenue Sova Bazar and Beadon Street, just north of the Marble Palace.
Several NGOs and government organizations operate here for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) including AIDS. Sonagachi project is a prostitute's cooperativethat operates in the area and empowers sex workers to insist on condom use; a relatively low percentage of prostitutes in this district (5.17% of the 13,000 prostitutes in Sonagachi) are estimated to be HIV positive. However, these efforts are hindered by human trafficking: refusal of clients to wear condom, and women controlled by third parties are forced to oblige. Kolkata has emerged as a hub for the trafficking of girls, who often arrive from Nepal, Bangladesh and Burma. From Kolkata they are often sold again to brothels in Mumbai (Bombay). Some will go on to the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Many of the women in Sonnagachi were forcedly taken away from their homes; some were tricked and others sold into prostitution by their friends and families; most of them are illiterate.
According to some sources, prostitutes from Sonagachi who test HIV positive are not told about the results, and live with the disease without knowing about it "because the DMSCis worried that HIV positive women will be ostracized. Some prostitutes in Sonagachi have stated that "the clients, at least three quarters of them" refuse to use condoms and "If we force them to use the condom, they will just go next door. There are so many women working here, and in the end, everyone is prepared to work without protection for fear of losing trade.
In south Kolkata, there is a red light district in the neighbourhood of Kalighat. Though the location of this red light district is way too far-off from the sacred site of the famous Kali Temple but according to civic maps of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation it falls under the area of Kalighat.
Kidderpore is an area in the south of Kolkata. There is a small red-light district on Mushigunj Road, near The Statesman's printing press.
In Bowbazar, oppposite the 'Calcutta Medical College and Hospital' there is a small Shiva temple. The address is Premchand Boral Street. The small street left of this is another, small red-light district.
Baruipur is a small village south of Kolkata. There is a small red-light district. A few stations away from Baruipur, there is a railway station named Shashan. There is a red-light area near the bazar or local market. There is also a red light area near Rambagan. Near the bazar in Behala Chowrasta, there was a red-light area, which was later stopped functioning, probably due to social pressure and lucrative residential/commercial complex promoting business. Also there was a red light area near the Khanna Cinema hall, north or Sealdah station, which was also stopped probably for the same reason. A few stations away from Sealdah station, there is a red light area in Naihati railway station near the river banks. South Kolkata Garia More(formerly) was an area. Right now it shifted little bit inside.
Even in Durgapur which is nearby Asansol and 170 KM away from Kolkata there is also a small red light area named Kadaroad near to main gate DSP.
Street prostitutes work in Esplanade Crossing, opposite of cinema ‘Metro’ and in the street between Elite Cinema Hall and Regal Cinema Hall, Jagat Cinema near Sealdah station and under Sealdah flyover, and another place is Ultadanga flyover and railway foot over bridge,kalighat, and Garia. Also a very small level high class escort service operates here,mostly college student or housewives or executives. Generally they use hotels booked by client or the flat of their pimp.
There are numerous private brothels and they are everywhere, but impossible to find without a guide. In the Maidan area, in front of Victoria Memorial main gate, some hookers move during evening in search of clients.
One interesting point to highlight is that the police is aware of these prostitutes roaming in the streets of Kolkata, but it often happens that they intentionally harass the man with the prostitute for money, without any protocol on how to follow in these situation for the well-being of the exploited person