Light Up That Dark Alley

I think growing up is about getting over judgment – the kind you so willingly make and so unwillingly take.
The lanes, by-lanes, cross-lanes, jammed lanes, dirt roads and dark alleys of Kamathipura are the picnic we should’ve all been taken on in high school to allow the many shades of grey to find space, home and acceptance in our tiny, trivial, even tumultuous teenage heads (so many of which regressed to become even tinier as we aged).

Kamathipura is a market for sex, drugs, alcohol, not far from the cleanest, most elite, most protected and guarded pockets of southern Bombay. Describing this market as ‘Black’ abases it to a colour code that simply won’t give credit to the very complex and dare-I-say-it: necessary ecosystem in the commercial capital of the country, that it very truly is.

The law has been an ass about many things for many moons, the world over. In its inability to make space for prostitution, without the right reserves and safeguards for those providing and operating such services, it permits the ass to kick itself a little harder every day, denying women the peace of a profession, denying society a place of release, denying profit, progress and prosperity where it is most missing.

The argument that sex or the sale of it is a dirty business is a priggish lie we’ve told ourselves for generations. In Kamathipura, it is how women put food on the table – their own and for the families they have left behind miles away, years ago, in the relentless pursuit of a better, larger, more meaningful life.

If one would do themselves the favour of speaking with these women, in and outside their matchbox sized rooms-for-homes,
You would know that they are women of worth, who have been pushed to the wall and hit back with resolve.
You would know that not all of them were forced or trafficked into their situations; a lot of them make the choice to be who they are every night.
You would know that they are women who demand the same respect women in “respectable” professions are awaiting.
You would know that the economic downturn, a pandemic, unseasonal weather, violence and unrest affect their trade just as it does any other.
You would know that they need no rescuing for they lighten the burden off sisters who often suffer the wrath of beasts they sure as hell shouldn’t.

More importantly, you would know that a woman or a transgender or a yet-to-be-categorized individual is more than their/her genitals. Sometimes, she’s a mother or a young girl (two traits that are often the lot of one person) who was abandoned, abused, dressed up, with a lot of make up to grant a possibly tormented, frustrated, exploratory, inquisitive, libidinous, inexperienced, eager, bored and hungry being a taste of paradise. It is in the lingering of that taste that a lot of society’s peace, ethics and progress are preserved.

So, grow up. Let that judgment go. In fact, reverse it so the law, for one godly minute, as also once and for all, can stop being an ass!


(We thank those that aided and carried us through our investigative visit to Kamathipura although they wish to remain anonymous. SHOUT! is humbled.)



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