KOLKATA: For Pratima Mondol, mornings have never been so busy. The 35-year-old has to divide her time between sewing jute bags, preparing meals that are supplied to offices and household chores. Part of a 10-member group that has been trained in handicrafts by an NGO, Pratima and her peers earn less than Rs 5000 a month. It barely makes ends meet, but the women don’t mind for it has given them a life of dignity. All of them are former sex workers from Munshiganj near Kidderpore who have managed to eke out an existence away from the red-light area.
It hasn’t been easy, though. They were threatened with murder when they chose to opt out of flesh trade. For months, Pratima had to hide in the NGO office along with her group members Basanti Das, Selina Bibi, Dolly Das and Ashna Bibi. “They would even come dressed as the police to take us back. But we stood firm, often fleeing the area to escape their clutches. We would undergo training in stitching and cooking while we were on the run,” said Pratima. Continue Reading.