“Prostitution is Absence of Choice”

Posted on September 28, 2012

Economic necessity, a lack of employment options, or coercion by family, pimps, or traffickers are all factors that can force women into sexual slavery. In Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwidecelebrity activist America Ferrera traveled to India with Nicholas Kristof to visit Urmi Basu and the New Light shelter.


No girl should have her future determined for her before she is even born. Especially when that future is defined by life in Kalighat, one of Kolkata, India’s largest red light districts where prostitution is a thriving business. Yet in India, 90 percent of girls born to commercial sex workers will one day take up their mothers’ profession. The typical age of a girl entering sex work? A staggering 13 years-old. Poverty, scarce opportunities, and the remnants of a caste system, which ranks prostitutes among the lowest of the low, make it difficult--if not impossible--to climb the social ladder out of the red-light district. It’s an environment where intergenerational prostitution is synonymous with forced prostitution.

When Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide airs on PBS Monday, October 1st, viewers will travel to Kalighat with journalist Nicholas Kristof and actress America Ferrera, a former host of Independent LensOn the journey they’ll meet Shona and Sushmita, a mother-daughter team defying the odds with the help of New Light, an organization founded by Urmi Basu to provide shelter, educational opportunities and other services to women and children in Kalighat. 

Tune in October 1st and 2nd to Independent Lens on PBS to watch the two-night broadcast of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.


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