Friday, February 22, 2008

Prostitution & Occupation

Believe it or not, some nomadic groups within North, North-eartern and Central India are best known to pursue prostitution with the consent of their families. Some of the tribes known are Bedia, Nat, Sansi, Kanjar, and Bachada. Out of which the most popular is the Bedia tribe, where women are kept unmarried and are asked to indulge in prostitution. These women contribute to the family income and meet the family’s immediate economic needs.

The act of prostitution is more like a family occupation amongst the unmarried women of the Bedia tribe. The question though that arises is that what becomes more of a pressure -- To continue their family tradition or stand for their individuality as a woman? The elder women believe that this will not change for a long time.

These customs have been followed for a long time. The reason for this desperate occupation within the community is because of economic conditions, even at the tradition's conception. Their ancestors believed that Bedia women could survive this new-found occupation with comfort, and that it was better than begging for money. The Bedia brothers who tie the knot do not let their wives enter into this profession. It is only the unmarried daughters and sisters within the house who are forced to adorn the family occupation. They are also subjected to perform household work along with the other ladies within the house.

What shocks one is that the men within the community rarely engage themselves into any kind of activity which supports the families. Some may get into agriculture but most of the men survive on the household income earned by the women through sex work. This situation completely contradicts the system within the nation that the man is the breadwinner and the lady is the home-maker.

The most startling thing though is that the kind of money that has started coming into community ever since this newly found profession is almost 10 times more than what they would have otherwise earned.

However, while Western ideals force our question and skepticism, the Bedia women are not yet complaining of the existing situation.

-Praveen Sequeira

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