Friday, February 5, 2016

River of Flesh and Other Stories: The Prostituted Woman in Indian Short Fiction, an introduction


image of book cover is from here
From Speaking Tiger Books:

SUMMARY

River of Flesh and Other Stories brings together twenty-one stories about trafficked and prostituted women by some of India’s most celebrated writers—Amrita Pritam, Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, Indira Goswami, Ismat Chughtai, J. P. Das, Kamala Das, Kamleshwar, Krishan Chander, Munshi Premchand, Nabendu Ghosh, Qurratulain Hyder, Saadat Hasan Manto and Siddique Alam, among others. 
Jugnu, in Kamleshwar’s ‘River of Flesh’ (‘Maas ka Darya’)—stares at a lifetime of servitude as age and disease take hold; Ismat Chughtai creates the unforgettable character of Lajo in ‘The Housewife’, a carefree young woman who must conform to society’s idea of decency, or risk being branded a whore; in ‘Heeng-Kochuri’, by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, a boy growing up near a red-light area discovers the adult world of patrons, connoisseurs and customers—as well as savouries offered to young boys as bribe; and in Manisha Kulshrestha’s ‘Kalindi’, a son looks in through a window and his life falls to pieces around him. 
An unprecedented anthology—for its subject, as well as for the range of authors and translators who are part of it—River of Flesh and Other Stories offers a harsh indictment of this practice of human slavery, too often justified—and occasionally glorified—as the ‘world’s oldest profession’.
Click here to read an excerpt from the book.

About and from the editor, at the Ahmedabad Mirror:
Ruchira Gupta (b 1964) , award-winning founder of anti sex-trafficking organization Apne Aap Women Worldwide, has just edited and published a River of Flesh and Other Stories, sub-titled The Prostituted Woman. The stories are translations from the work of Premchand, Manto, Amrita Pritam, Baburao Bagul, Qurratulain Hyder, Ismat Chugtai and others. "Every story," Gupta says, "reveals the absence of choices prostituted women and their un-prostituted sisters face in and outside marriage. While the trauma and brutality of prostitution is exposed, so is the subordination of women through marriage as a cultural caste system." 
"The average age of a girl pulled into prostitution is between nine and thirteen years...They are put through a process known as 'seasoning', in which they are beaten, starved, drugged...and made to believe that they are repaying the small loans of five or ten thousand rupees which their fathers have taken...According to current research, the physical and mental consequences of the repeated body invasion that prostituted women face is so extreme that these girls and women suffer from higher rates of psycho-social trauma than even war veterans."

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