What Mayank Soofi meant when he said, “If you really look at them they are unmean streets, with unmean people leading unmean lives.”
Mayank Austen Soofi, writer, blogger and photojournalist, is a guide to unique Delhi, the realms of which have been fuelling his writing since many years. In his latest release No One Can Love You More, Mayank talks about the red light areas in Delhi and its denizens for whom sex is a way to earn money.
At The Hindu Lit for Life, where he was one of the panellists, Mayank talked about the ‘mean streets’ of Delhi, in the context of his recently released book. He referred to G.B Road, a redlight area in Delhi as mean street. In this book, his effort was to narrate the extraordinary lives of sex workers in an ordinary, everyday manner.
“Red light districts in Delhi are very unusual. Many people go there, yet it is unheard of and unreported except when there are police raids,” he says, at a book signing soon after his panel discussion. He said that women and their children living in these areas face tremendous alienation. ‘Being in the city, it doesn’t belong to the city’.
To understand this alienation further, he explored different ‘red light areas’ of the city, lived in these places among the sex workers, interacted with their children, got a better understanding of their lives and concluded that their lives were not that different from ours and that they were victims of societies’ indifference and the existence of these problems act as a hindrance to solving the greater issue of human trafficking.
Talking about prostitution, he said “Prostitution must be legalised but it doesn’t mean that one is in favour of trafficking. It means giving sex-workers their basic rights and making sure they are not harassed by the authorities or the police.” These rights will ensure that no sex-worker ever gets raped and such incidents never happen. He said that the rape of a prostitute is no different from marital rapes. Also “There will be a greater chance for their children to grow up in a better environment.”
He said that the book was his representation of the realities in these unspoken territories of the city. The book was not to be represented as the voice of these sex workers as it is his thought process at work, not theirs.