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Daughters Of The Brothel: Stories from Delhi’s Red-light District — by Deepak Yadav

Publisher: Bigfoot Publications Pvt. Ltd.
Pages: 206
Price: Rs. 149 INR(Paperback), Rs. 99 INR (Kindle Edition)
ISBN: 978–8194202196
Buy here: https://amzn.to/2un9ONW

Have You Ever Visited A Red Light Area?

“My nath utrai (Taking off the nose ring) was performed when I was twelve or thirteen. The initial days were tough but now it gives me pleasure. I have inherited the art of making love from my grandmother.”
-Roopal, a sex worker from the Bedia community in brothel number 56.

Nath Utrai ceremony is nothing but the auction of the girl by the highest bidder near Bharatpur in Rajasthan.

“Everyone believes that all hijras are castrated, but this is not true. We call it nirvana . Castration is usually optional. It cannot be forced upon a hijra .”
-Sharmila, a eunuch from the streets of Varanasi.

The narrator spends a considerable amount of time in G.B. Road, the famous red-light district in New Delhi during his stint with an NGO. He records the narratives of the sex workers of brothel number 56, insights of their daily lives, local lingos, quarrels, and the ins and outs of their business with an honest stoicism that does not dilute the terrible pathos of their lives.

Through this voyage within the walls of pleasurable cells, the writer learns that the G.B. road is an inexorable web…but only because the women trapped in it believe it to be so.

About the author:

Deepak Yadav (24) is an author and entrepreneur based in Delhi. He is an alumnus of Birla School, Pilani and owns a degree in law from Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. His debut novel, Walking With You, was published in 2013 when he was eighteen under the banner of Diamond Books.

He founded Bigfoot Publications in 2018: one of the leading publishing houses in India during his college days which provide an open platform to debut authors.

He has worked with several NGOs in the past including Guria, Udaan Foundation and Rotary International. He is passionate about cooking, movies and travelling.

Deepak identifies himself as an introvert, nature lover and a keen observer. He runs a Vlog channel on YouTube under the title — Mr. Bigfoot, where he shares a part of his daily life. Do not forget to subscribe to his channel.

My take on the book:

Daughters of the brothel is a recollection of the time spent by the author interacting with the women who lived and worked in brothel no. 56, G.B. Road, Delhi while working for an NGO. The book starts with the author’s interaction with a eunuch Sharmila during a train journey who narrates her story and in-turn the author narrates stories that he was planning to publish as a book.

The author presents the harsh realities of these women and the common pain they all suffer irrespective of their age, background and place from which they hailed. While some of them have been forced to enter this profession, it is shocking to know some of them do it willingly due to extreme poverty, some because that’s what their mothers and grandmothers did and that’s all they knew growing up. As can be observed, poor women who are uneducated and without a supporting family end up in these brothels and most of them cannot return as they find the few hundreds earned here as their only hope for survival.

The author jots down his conversations with these women in an interesting manner hence avoiding the documentary style one might expect from such a topic. The author also includes the story of the brothel owner who lives with her kids, to get a unique perspective of the running of these places. The stories of these women are unique but still have the common traits of betrayal, pain, suffering, despair all over. The author even touches on the roots and origin of this profession from ancient times and how it has changed over the centuries.

The stories highlight how these women are exploited by everyone around them and there are no basic human rights, how the law enforcing authorities are also partners in this vicious cycle. These stories are heart wrenching to say the least and they leave the reader with multiple questions of how a part of a society is looked down and neglected by others. While the statistics about child and women trafficking only indicate a surge year-on-year, the governments seem least serious about ending it, as I sadly don’t recollect any political parties including them in their election manifestos.

This book is an important read as it mirrors the life of these sex-workers and the situations that often lead them to end up in brothels, thus inflicting a lifetime of suffering on young women. The book also breaks the clichés that popular art forms try to brand these women by bringing out their humane side which is often missed. A disturbing one, yet a must read!

My rating: