Hajra, Mumtaz and Sheinaz take a break from field work in a red-light district in Solapur, South Maharashtra. The three women work as peer educators with SAI, an NGO based in Mumbai.
By Helen Rimell
In South Mumbai's Red-Light Districts there are an estimated 100,000 brothel-based sex workers, most of whom are not there voluntarily. A high proportion of the women and girls working there have been sold into sex work, often by a relative or trusted family friend; others are born into sex work.
Life within the Red-Light Districts is incredibly difficult; poverty, drug & alcohol addiction, gambling, and violence are an everyday reality. These women live on the edge of society, frowned upon and ignored. It is estimated that between 30 and 50 percent of India's sex workers are HIV positive. Due to a lack of education and severe poverty many sex workers continue to have unprotected sex.
Sheinaz sitting in the room she shares with 15 others. It is a family room next to the brothel she works in. One bed typically holds a woman, her regular partner, if she has one, and any children she has.
Salma, 23, is the mother of a young daughter, she has been beaten and sold into different brothels in three different cities over the past few years. She lives in constant fear that she will again be sold, and does not believe she would survive if this happened.