LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The daughters of 15 Indian sex workers hope to change perceptions of human trafficking when they dramatise their experience of the modern slave trade at the world’s biggest arts festival this summer.
Their play - Lal-Batti (Red Light) Express - aims to reach audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe festival with little knowledge of either sex work or today’s global trade in people.
They hope that by recounting their personal experiences of trafficking and family insights into the sex industry, this will ease the stigma their mothers routinely face at home.
“It’s been an amazing journey to watch the girls develop their voices, confidence, and personalities through theatre,” said Robin Chaurasiya, director of the charity Kranti, which supported the girls.
“But more importantly, it’s so inspiring to watch the amount of people they reach and how many mind sets they change along the way,” he added.Aged from 13 to 22, the actors are all daughters of sex workers and trafficking survivors from Mumbai’s red-light district. They attend the Kranti School, which was set up to help the daughters of sex workers from Mumbai’s red-light Kamathipura area and victims of human trafficking.
The troupe will perform in August at the largest arts festival in the world, the Edinburgh Fringe in Scotland.
“I found out theatre could be a path for healing,” performer Sandhya Nair said in a statement. “It’s been so liberating to share our stories with audiences that applaud and appreciate instead of judge and discriminate.”
Kranti’s curriculum covers everything from maths to meditation. And the “krantikaris” or revolutionaries it trains are encouraged to become teachers and community leaders.
Mumbai is one of the biggest destinations for trafficked women and children. Most are lured from other states and neighboring countries, including Nepal and Bangladesh, often with the promise of a well-paid job in a home or shop.
Instead, many are trafficked into sex work or forced into manual labour. The city’s commercial sex workers face stigma and are at greater risk of violence, as the industry has been forced underground after repeated police crackdowns, activists say.
Reporting by Anna Pujol-Mazzini @annapmzn, Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org