The day I was taken to the brothel

I was taken to the Kolkata’s brothel. It’s not one building, it’s an area, a town. It’s huge. An endless network of little lanes that wind themselves around lost looking children, painted girls and a fog of perfume and stench.
It is the largest brothel in Asia. There are 26,000 prostitutes in Kolkata. That’s not a typo. It is probably obvious to you that if you are a clear foot taller than the average Indian man, are wearing bright red trainers in a country of sandals and are seemingly the only white man in Kolkata at the beginning of June before Monsoon, then if you walk through the largest brothel in Asia you will find yourself the centre of an awful lot of horrible attention.
Not from the girls. I have never seen such passive, still prostitutes. Which was disturbing in itself.
No the attention is from the pimps who are not in any way extraordinary- they are small, rat like fuckers just as they are anywhere else in the world. But much more noisy.

No one, especially me, is interested in my empty rhetoric, ignorant disgust and impotent fury at the brothel. But it is worth saying that my experience there made me think on an issue that I was talking about in the UK before I set out. The argument that legalising brothels ensures an improvement in the quality of living for the girls and the cessation of trafficking does not engage with the example of Kolkata: Asia’s largest brothel, and legal.


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