Lalitha Nayak is a social worker, working for the welfare of sex-workers residing in the brothels at GB Road. Lalitha is from Karnataka and was working for Devdasi women and their children in Bangalore when she came to know about human trafficking and visited GB Road for the first time in 1988.
GB Road, officially Swami Shradhanand Marg, is one among three famous red light areas in India. GB Road has several brothels which are illegal as per Indian laws located at just 5 km from the Parliament.
Alok Anand visited Lalitha at her Centre in GB Road to know her experiences and to ask her opinion on the highly controversial issue of making brothels legal in India.
“When I used to visit GB Road brothels in the late eighties, the sex-workers used to plead us by saying ‘our life has already been destroyed, please do something for our children’. Hence in 1991 from the funding of the Social Welfare Ministry, we started the centre in a single room”, said Lalitha Nayak.
She continued, “now the centre is open 24*7 for the sex workers and their children and people nearby who want to send their children here. As of today (31st December 2017) 72 children are enrolled in this centre”.
When asked – Should brothels be made legal in India? – She laughed and said “what exactly do you want to make legal? Is prostitution is the only job left for Indian women? or would you legalise trafficker?
If the sex-workers are complaining that the Police are harassing them, do they (sex-workers) never go to the police for help? Do they want a free zone from the police? Then how these women would tackle the trafficking mafia or drug mafia?
In no way, I would like to encourage prostitution and I do not encourage prostitution. But until sex-workers are here I would help them in whatever way I can.
The sex-workers who are saying brothels should be made legal, would they like to give prostitution a choice to their daughter? If not, why they want it to make legal so that someone else’s daughter would have to come into it?
Women (sex-workers) are here today because they are helpless. Tomorrow, if we make it legal, even parents can say to their daughter that it’s a legally recognised job. Join it and bring some money home”, said Lalitha Nayak.