Since demonetisation, the nights have turned frantic in Sonagachi

The scrapping of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes has hit hard more than 10,000 sex workers.

Published: 16th November 2016 06:03 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th November 2016 10:15 PM   |  A+A-


File photo for representation purpose only

Express News Service

KOLKATA: Kolkata's red light district of Sonagachi is a fairly good place to hear some truth spoken about the current demonetisation brouhaha in India. So here is Ruksana's (name changed) take: "We don’t care whether the money we've been making lately is honestly-earned or not. Would the bhadralok spend their hard-earned money on buying sex?"

What the sex worker from Khulna in Bangladesh implies is that yes there's been an increase in custom since the Prime Minister made his announcement on Nov. 8. and yes the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes she's being paid with is probably hot money. Who cares.

In fact, the night turned frantic in Sonagachi right after the PM broke the news that big greenbacks won't be legal tender after midnight.

“Initially, we got a lot of customers who came in with `500 and `1,000 notes. We couldn't give them back change, so we invited them to spend more time with us," said sex worker Malati (name changd).

Business was particularly breezy in the first three days, and now that bank windows have opened somewhat, there's  been a drop, but still these are good days.

Unlike many hospitals and petrol vends, many of the ladies of Sonagachi do their bit to ease the nation's tensions by accepting 500 and `1,000 notes from custom. The scrapped notes are deposited in the Usha Cooperative Bank where many of them hold accounts. The bank hasn't given them the new notes yet as they have more pressing customers to attend to.

Unlike also like PSU petrol bunks, the sex workers of Sonagachi do not insist that customer spend all of their 500s or 1000s. They do give change back. Malati has for long kept a tight wad of `50 and `100 notes stuffed into a wooden box kept under her bed. Since Modi's demonetisation, she the 50s and 100s have stayed in the box but the big notes have all been deposited in the bank.

Business has been brisker for what are called 'high-end' sex workers as many people reason what's the point of pickling all that hot money if some fun can't be had.

Rajdeep Mitra (name changed), an entrepreneur in Salt Lake, said, “My friends and I had `6,000 in 500 and 1,000 currency notes. After Nov. 8, we decided Sonagachi was a useful way of getting rid of the cash."


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