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These Students Are Fighting To Legalise Prostitution In India, And Their Project Deserves Your Support

Chauhan first visted this village as part of his project on using prostitutes as models for his designs. After returning from the trip, he found himself thinking of a larger possibility for empowering prostitutes across India.




When Amit Chauhan decided to turn his National Institute of Fashion Technology project on prostitution into a larger effort to legalise it in India, he was not sure of what he would find in the dark alleys of the famous brothels in northern India. In an exclusive interview with Indiatimes, Chauhan talks about what he found when looking for case studies for his research for an upcoming book and now Facebook page, Nath Utrai

"The page is named after the girl's puberty festival in Khakranagla of Rajasthan. The project was inspired by the cultural reference to prostitution in the village which is one-of-a-kind in India," shares Chauhan. "Many parts of India celebrate a girl's attaining puberty but it is largely a celebration at home or with near and dear friends. In Khakranagla, after a girl has her first period, she has a ceremonial bath and then married. The first night is celebrated as the 'nath utrai' or losing of virginity."
Khakrangla
Amit Chauhan
Chauhan first visted this village as part of his project on using prostitutes as models for his designs. After returning from the trip, he found himself thinking of a larger possibility  for empowering prostitutes across India. He teamed up with six other students from his college in Kangra and started a larger project documenting the lives of prostitutes in Delhi and Rajasthan. 
"We chose three case studies from Delhi and Rajasthan respectively. Although we went armed with questions on their choice of profession and what they would do if they could escape, we were shocked to find that most women in the profession do not want to leave the job," he shares. 

"These prostitutes are the bread winners for their entire family." 

Nath Utrai
Amit Chauhan
"Six months ago, we went to GB Road in Delhi which is a well-known red light district in the Capital. We were led to the police station by a tout where we were instructed not to take any photographs or video footage," he shares. "We spoke to a lot of the women there. They were clear that they did not want this life for any of their children but for most, there was no alternate job options." 
"My family knew about the project I have been working on and they had valid concerns as the crime rate around these places is quite high. They are still nervous when I am on the field but they support me," he shares. 

The end of the project started a bigger conversation among the seven which resulted in the Facebook page - Nath Utrai. 

Nath Utrai
Amit Chauhan
"These women get 100-200 rupees per customer and have to split the profits with a middlemen. If prostitution was leganlised in India then they would not be exploited," Chauhan says. "The objective in my mind is to fight for legalising prostitution in India. I feel that by doing this, we can help bring down crimes against women in the country. If men have a legal space to satisfy their sexual needs, women of the country will be at a lesser risk."

The Ministry of Women and Child Development has stated that the number of prostitutes in India, despite its illegality, has risen by 50 per cent between 1997 and 2004.

Nath Utrai
Amit Chauhan
The ministry also has recorded over 3 million sex workers across India in 2009. However, these numbers have risen drastically. Prostitution is legal in India however, owning or running a brothel is not. Countries like Germany, Greece and Indonesia have benefitted deeply from legalising prostitution with clear laws in favour of the sex workers. However, in countries like Canada and Bangladesh, legalising prostitution has added to trafficking and other crimes. India needs to develop a strict set of laws governing the trade to avoid crimes against women.   
Nath Utrai
Amit Chauhan
The Nath Utrai project now has support from a Scottish activist, Mekhala Dave, who is be visiting India next year to help the students bring out a book and file a petition for the legislation. "Right now, we are doing a lot of shoots with models and college students on the basis of the research that we have. We are trying to create more awareness on the issue on a national level."
Amit Chauhan
FB/Amit Chauhan
The Facebook page gets a lot of hits but has less than 400 likes so far. Chauhan laughs, "I understand that people want to know about it but do not wish to be seen publicly talking or participating in such an event." More solemnly, he adds, "This needs to change. Every person has human rights and these women have been deprived of dignity and have ended up as victims of a failed society." 
All images courtesy Amit Chauhan

Source:IndiaTimes

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B3infoarena: These Students Are Fighting To Legalise Prostitution In India, And Their Project Deserves Your Support
These Students Are Fighting To Legalise Prostitution In India, And Their Project Deserves Your Support
Chauhan first visted this village as part of his project on using prostitutes as models for his designs. After returning from the trip, he found himself thinking of a larger possibility for empowering prostitutes across India.
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