It’s hard to see the light.

Reflections on work with Apne Aap Women’s Collective.Part 1.

I work with a collective called ‘Apne Aap’ and they are an 8-year-old organization looking at rehabilitating and providing sustenance and education to second-generation young women and girls in and around the Red Light District of Kamatipura in Mumbai. I’m really excited to have started work on their documentation and it has been interesting so far.

My first few days started with trying to get perspective over the roles of women. I remember passing the area out of curiosity and then recoiling completely (Ya Allah!) in shock on my taxi seat, being driven around while being feeling aghast moral religious far observer absurd sentiments take me over as I bent lowly while the cab driver ferreted me out.

I’ve been observing the flesh trade for a while now. Women wearing glittering embroidered saris of the sixties sort that my mother has from her dowry, with gaudy sequins walk around alone and engulfed in the inky darkness of the sea-shore, almost gliding, almost singing, almost riding the waves, radiant in their translucent make-up. You couldn’t call them brazen. It’s just their job.

What’s astounding is a newer arrangement I’ve seen with auto drivers who ferry them from their homes to Juhu Tara Road and then the client and the woman are taken elsewhere. Sometimes I hastily presume that the flesh trade is only comprised of women, and I haven’t cast the same eye on the young men that are sometimes vacantly poised on this street.

Sex -Work is a vicious trade and Apne Aap’s work is in trying to prevent younger women in the community from getting absorbed into the trafficking circle.

I have always felt that it’s really easy to ‘have a slur on your name’, and in my work have always resisted the sort of moralism that makes you ‘safe’ from questioning righteous judgement. Sexuality is a burdensome domain that rakes heavily on the ones who defy its neat questions. It’s hard to see the light.


2 thoughts on “It’s hard to see the light.

  1. A quick introduction. I am Sunaina working at Breakthrough, Delhi. This post is most interestingly written and highlights the positives of your organisation and the great work they are doing.
    What comes through your post is the concern/sensitivity you have exhibited for this issue.

    Breakthrough conducts a very vibrant and robust education programme for youth and community leaders, who we believe will be catalysts for change. Our trainings mostly centre around women’s rights, HIV/AIDS and sexuality. And we believe that experiences from the field need to be documented and highlighted.

    Well, I work on a youth oriented site called and would love for you to blog on it. Like I’ve already mentioned, we have posts very similar to yours, talking about grassroot level experiences both from within and without – in a category called “Rural Window”.

    Please visit the site and do write back to me at about your thoughts on the campaign.And if you’re interested, do blog on the site as well. And if you’re a regular blogger, we’d be happy to put you on our blogroll and crosslink your blog page on our site.

    Thanks and hoping to hear from you,
    Sunaina Bhakhri

    1. Thanks for the comment.I thought that what you had to day was a general comment, and I would like to take it further if Breakthrough is interested.

      I’m working with some ideas about what is called loosely called sex-work right now, an extremely angst-ridden and morally strenuous exercise.The work is an ambitious endeavor, and right now I’m looking at the idea of prostitution with aspects of labour and gender roles.
      I hope that I’m through with the tiresome exploratory period.To quote Erin Brokovich, “I’m really quite tired”, so I’m going to write to you and let’s see what we can do about this.

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