Few days ago, I had a chance to travel by our Mumbai local after quite a long time. It was crammed and noisy as usual and after a couple of minutes of wriggling and fighting to breathe, I finally did manage to get a place to sit. I had my music plugged into my ears, but the din outside was way too loud to hear the music without risking loss of my hearing. I turned it off and did the best thing that you can do in a train; stare randomly and kill time. Everyone was jostling for space and everyone was pushing everyone, and I sat between two tightly pressed bodies on either side. I couldn’t help overhear what the ladies, apparently two fellow commuters, were talking.
Lady with the yellow dupatta (hereafter referred as L1), ‘It’s really sad, how low one can stoop to make money.’
Restless lady with an irritatingly noisy polythene bag (hereafter referred as L2), ‘Yes indeed. These women have no morals, no dignity and absolutely no self-respect.’
L1: Exactly, how can you sleep with someone for money? It’s unimaginable to me.
L2: How can anyone choose prostitution as an option for making a living? There are hundred odd jobs these women could do to earn a respectable living.
L1: And because of these women, there is so much filth and dirt around us, the dark secrets of the city, the hidden alleys which are frequented by men who don’t think twice before cheating on their wives, for few minutes of their filthy pleasure.
L2: I would rather die than resort to those means, if it ever came to that.
L1: And I wouldn’t want to associate myself with any of these women, in anyway possible. It’s way too below my dignity.
L1: Anyway, to each his own. Did you see that movie Rowdy Rathore?
They continued their conversation but my mind had wandered off by then. These women seemed educated and respected, yet I was appalled to hear how shallow their views were. With all due respect to L1 and L2, who were nice respectful women and who had opportunities to choose a respectable life, they still didn’t have a right to talk about some other women without getting all their facts cleared. I didn’t like the tone of their conversation, or even their attitude, for that matter. Who were they to give character certificates, and who were they to decide who should die and who should struggle to survive. And had they ever bothered to get the other side of the story?
We live in a dynamic society and the societal labyrinth is as complex as complex can be. Just like in a food chain, everyone is playing their part here. Think of it as a movie, where everyone is assigned a role, however small. But until everyone plays their part to perfection, the movie is not quite complete.
Before we ridicule prostitutes and write them off as a mere speck of dirt mark on society, take a moment ladies, and realise that they might actually be doing a favour on us and to the society. If not for them, the other respectable women in the city might probably be living in the constant fear of being raped. If not for these women, the labourers and the drivers who are rarely home and always travelling and who are notorious for frequenting brothels and prostitutes would be roaming around freely looking at every woman as just a sex object. If not for these women, thousands of horny men who have no other option to satiate their hunger would be objectifyng every woman that crosses their path. Imagine what would happen if no body was playing that part. The balance would be disturbed and the repercussions would definitely show in some other part of the society.
So L1, you have an option of not sleeping for money, be glad, count your blessings and don’t sleep.
And L2, you would rather die than offer yourself for money; that is easier said than done. Be grateful that you never had to choose that. And if these women are valuing this wonderful gift of life above everything else, and are surviving by whatever means that they deem best, it’s their bloody right to choose LIFE above everything else.
By saying this, I am not advocating prostitution. I am not saying that we should honour these women with medals or that we should all befriend them. All I am saying is, at least let’s be tolerant of them. At least let’s not talk about them as if they have no more dignity than an insect. These women would have been at some sort of crossroads in their life when they decided to take up this profession (which by the way is very legal in many nations and rightly so). They would all have a story, they would all have been utterly helpless or out of all options to choose this. Many might have been forced into this by lecherous men and pimps. Many would want to go back to their old lives but they are unable to see any way out. Agreed, some women would do that out of choice, for money or for other reasons. So just as L1 rightly says, to each his own. Their life, their worry. Why should we also take away that little benefit of doubt as well? There might be reasons: lack of education, no opportunities, no guidance, they might be shouldering family responsibilities and feeding hungry mouths. In fact, we should salute their spirit to live and their desire to make best out of whatever life offered.
Not all human beings are good, just like how not all prostitutes are bad. We are a judgemental lot. No really, many of us are. We, Indians, love to jump to conclusions. We have always loved to compartmentalize and classify things/people into the boxes we have created in our mind over the years. These boxes have been created so that we can conform to the societal norms and common practices. So that we can all live together in a civilized, regulated society. And that is how it should be ideally, no arguing that. As long as these boxes or norms are aiding the progress of the society. All is well till we are able to do so. But hell breaks loose when we are not able to put those things/situations/people in to one of those boxes. When something doesn’t adhere to the normal, acceptable standards, it’s funny to see how we react.
My only urge, through this blog is, never rush to judge someone. Because we don’t know what life that someone is living or what situations that someone is facing. We hardly ever know the other side of the story. Thinking good, healthy and positive thoughts about others conveys nothing but your own positive disposition towards life.
Some food for thought, isn’t it?