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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

Malayalam Cinema Depicts Sex Workers As A Disease, Says Nalini Jameela

  • IWB Post
  •  September 11, 2018

Some time ago, IWB engaged in a conversation Nalini Jameela, a sex worker, activist, documentary-maker and a best-selling author, where she shared how she wants to portray the true picture of a sex worker.

“I want to give a true picture of a sex worker, ditching the one-sided depictions of her being the person standing in dark alleys, soliciting clients, running away from the law and society, having fleeting relationships, and no friends,” she had said.

And now, in a recent article in The News Minute, she shed light on how wrong the depiction of sex workers in Malayalam cinema is.

“In cinema, the sex worker is always pitted against the virtuous and pious woman – the self-effacing ideal woman; the perfect wife, mother and daughter. They serve no familial function and fulfil neither the domestic role of nurturance nor any reproductive roles usually assigned to women. Instead, the sex worker’s social and economic value lies in their provision of a sexual service to men,” she said.

She further added how in cinema, sex workers are depicted as a disease. “Even terrorists are shown with more tolerance. When they talk about terrorists, there are empathetic backstories; this is not the case with a sex worker. The sex worker is always garishly dressed—big bindis, ugly red lipsticks, heavy eye make-up, paan chewing, lascivious women. And they seem to have no redeeming qualities either,” she said.

She goes on to point out that how any woman who has multiple partners is called “thevidichi”, an offensive name, but when men do the same thing, no such thing happens to them. Filmmakers just refuse to explore the life of a sex worker and accept that she is much more than a sex worker.

“If they had explored further, they would have realised that the bond between a sex worker and her children are very strong, as they are the only constant in their lives. However, such emotional sides of their character are seldom shown. They showcase the red-light area in cities, projecting the brothel Madame as a powerful force, but the minute they shift to a village, they are considered as outcasts,” she explained.

“I have lost count of the number of films where they show the sex worker being thrown money. Like they throw crumbs at a stray dog.  We are mostly shown as living in inhuman conditions. Or else they would just rudely slap the money on their hands,” she added. “For the record, every sex worker isn’t depressed, unhappy and living a life of self-pity. For many, this is just a job. Instead of constantly judging the sex worker, why are there very few films that show the realities of being trafficked, child abuse, the meagre wages and the importance of demanding protected sex?”


H/T: The News Minute


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