Magazine article New Internationalist

Rough and Tumble: Sex Workers Unite in Calcutta [Male Prostitutes Join Forces with Female Workers]

Magazine article New Internationalist

Rough and Tumble: Sex Workers Unite in Calcutta [Male Prostitutes Join Forces with Female Workers]

Article excerpt

A group of male sex workers has come out into the open and joined organizations for female prostitutes for the first time in Calcutta, India. 'Our situation is worse than that of female sex workers because society doesn't accept us as normal.' says a spokesperson for male prostitutes, Madhu Sarkar. 'Besides, the women are doing great work looking after themselves. Why not be together when we're in the same boat, though in different context?'

This thinking led several men to join Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, which translates as 'Tough Women Together Committee' (DMSC).

'When Madhu and friends approached us we were rather surprised,' admits DMSC secretary Sadhana Mukherjee. But she says they soon found men faced problems similar to women. The existence of male sex workers has rarely been acknowledged. When they were photographed and publicized many locals were shocked. According to a report by the Panos Institute there are an estimated 50,000 male prostitutes in Mumbai/Bombay alone, compared with 250,000 female prostitutes. The report says there are well-documented accounts of male prostitutes in every region of the world and emphasizes that they have sex with men and women.

The DMSC grew out of an AIDS prevention project in Songachi, Calcutta's biggest red-light district, which is home to around 5,000 sex workers. …

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