On Sunday, ten days after Nagpur Commissioner of Police Amitesh Kumar ordered the city’s Ganga-Jamuna red light district shut, residents and sex workers clashed.
The sex workers, led by Jwala Dhote, daughter of late firebrand Vidarbha leader Jambuwantrao Dhote, have been enjoining the ban to be lifted, citing copious difficulties they have faced as a result of the closure of their source of income.
According to local residents, sex workers allure minor girls from outside the state and brazenly solicit in public places, tainting the ambiance and making life difficult for the residents. On August 12, police closed the red light district citing provisions of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act.
Residents have formed an action committee, led by NCP corporator Abha Pande, to press for the closure of the red light district.
On Sunday, they came face to face with the sex workers led by Jwala Dhote, and the police reportedly struggled to keep the crowd under control.
“We will not allow anyone to do flesh trade here,” Pande stated. The court has already directed the brothel’s closure, and we demand that it be carried out. They can live here harmoniously if they work something else, but they can’t run a brothel.”
“Those demanding the closure of the brothel live in big cottages and don’t have to worry about two square meals,” Dhote said. These women and their children are defied with a situation in which they have no food. Why should they be compelled to starve?”
No woman should be obliged to engage in prostitution to make a living, but unless an option is provided, they should be permitted to support themselves, Dhote added.
Jambuwa-ntrao, Dhote’s father, was recognized for having sex workers tie rakhis to him. On Sunday, sex workers in the city outlined a protest in memory of Jambuwantrao.
Tension had been building in the area since the red light district was shut. “There were three basic reasons for closing the brothels,” Kumar told The Indian Express. It is not a crime for consenting adults to engage in any sexual activity, whether or not money is exchanged.
However, running brothels, trafficking minor girls and bringing them into the red light district, and openly soliciting in public places are all illegal. In addition, following the second Covid wave, we saw a significant increase in customer traffic in the area. All of this culminated in the decision to close the area.”
“Ladies who engage in prostitution for an extended period of time can be rehabilitated, but we will not abide minor girls being forced into the illegal business and brothel houses being run and will deal with it strictly.” Kumar further added.