Daughters of Kamathipura
Daughters of Kamathipura
Pratip Acharya

Mumbai: "I was sexually abused when I was a kid and I felt ashamed of myself. But today I realise I have not done anything to be guilty of." states, 19-year-old Jayashree Patil.

Jayashree, is among the twenty three girls from Mumbai's red light district Kamathipura, who have come up with a play - "Lal batti express", aiming to break all stereotypes and change the society's prejudiced perception towards sex workers and their families.

Conceived in 2013, the play was initially called "Kamathipura ki zindagi", before it was renamed.

The performers are either daughters of sex workers, victims of sexual abuse and survivors of child trafficking, raised by transgender and sex-workers, tell their journey from misery to a life of dignity and triumph with the play.

The play received global aknowledgegement in 2015, after it was staged at a theatre festival at the United States. Since then, there was no looking back, over the last one year, the girls have travelled the world performing at international venues of Europe, Britain and Dubai.

The play has received humongous response worldwide and has struck the right chords with the audiences.

Surprisingly the play is not written or directed by a single playwright but the real life experiences of the girls are intertwined in a way and transformed it into a fifty-five-minute long single storyline.

For the the performers, who have been working on the play since their adolescence states, the play tends to be an escape from their traumatic reality.

"Growing up as children at a red light area is horrific. In the play we put ourselves in the situation of trauma we have faced. This help us to accept ourselves and heal," said Tanya.

Both Jayashree and Tanya like all the other girls in the troupe now has a clarity towards their life. Jayashree wants to pursue higher studies in theatre and drama while Tanya has completed her aviation course and is soon to become a flight attendant

The girls feel acting in the play not just empowered them but has also taught them to accept their reality.

"Growing up in a red light district taught me what discrimination is. I used to hate my past, but now I have realised that I am not different from anyone." says Shraddha Katti, one of the performers, who intends to become a painter when grown up.

The girls are being backed by Mumbai based NGO - Kranti India. All the girls have been rehabilitated by the NGO, which provides them shelter and quality schooling.

"In our society, people tend to look away from the children of sex workers, which causes a deep rooted trauma inside the children. We teach these children to shrug off their fear and insecurities and prepare them to pursue their dreams," said Bani Das co-founder of Kranti India.

Founded in 2010, Das's NGO also provides the children counselling at a regular basis, where experts counsel them and help them to get rid off their insecurities.

"Apart from providing the children with necessities we try to counsel them. All of them are victimised at a very young age and we try to get them rid of the traumas before it takes a toll on them" stated Das.

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