Kalighat red district in Kolkata is one of the world’s biggest brothels. There, hundreds of women prostitute themselves in order to escape from extreme poverty.
The area is one of the city’s main focuses of AIDS infection. Men go there every day to have sex with prostitutes. Many of them also go there to have sex with boys and girls, aged up to 9. They believe that going to bed with a girl or a virgin not only protects them from getting sexually transmitted diseases, but also heal existing illnesses.
Due to economic needs, many prostitutes let their children enter prostitution networks. Other children beg, steal or take drugs in the neighborhood. Many were born already infected with AIDS.
Rakesh is not one of them. Rakesh is staying at New Light, a small shelter for prostitutes’ children open 24 hrs a day in the middle of the red district. This shelter provides children with food, education and sanitary and emotional assistance. They believe that it is not only about giving a less painful everyday life. They firmly believe that education is vital for changing one country’s social structure. For only if future generations have freedom, education and information, the vicious circle of poverty, violence, prostitution and drug addiction in which the children in this neighborhood are trapped will be broken.
This photography project documents 24 actual hours of Rakesh’s real life. Each picture is labeled with hours, minutes and seconds, to represent how a child’s life can change when he escapes from the street, begging and drugs. 24 photographed hours in order to show that education is, besides a right, a weapon to change the world.
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