While researching the football scene in Kolkata, photographer Balarka Brahma came across a residential home set up by Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC) for children of sex workers from various brothels at Baruipur, a small town near Kolkata. Slowly gathering information and details from its location to the mode of functioning, Brahma finally got a chance to meet Mr. Smarajit Jana, the head of the academy, and embarked on a visual documentation of the children’s lives at the residential home.
A unique cooperative of close to 65,000 sex workers–male, female and transgender–DMSC was established in 1992 in Sonagachi, the region’s largest red-light district. Rallying for the rights of brothel workers, the team felt the need to do more for their children who often get trapped in the trade of their mothers, or when they are denied education they’re driven into the nefarious trade of sex work and drugs. DMSC’s innovative approach to providing new opportunities to these children involve separating them from their mothers, a necessary evil for many, and providing them with a safe home, schooling and an in into mainstream society through football.
“Sports have helped in great extent to integrate them in societies. As everyone knows that Bengal is the land of football; it was the obvious choice to them to select football for this purpose,” Brahma told us. “Running a home only for residential and educational purposes do not help much in long run, and they realized it. At least they needed something which can attract and motivate the kids to stay away from their mothers. The football team is a mixture of both kids from the brothel areas and beyond.” (Words: Sara Hussain)
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Balarka is an independent documentary photographer from India. He mainly works with NGOs for their works in various sectors like education, health and mental care along with his personal projects. His works have been published in different magazines like Galli, Better Photography, Invisible Photographer Asia, Private and many more. (source: lensculture)