A Sex Worker's Journey

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Photography unearths beauty from the ashes: Travelling down the narrow lanes of the red-light area in the city of New Delhi, ace photographer Subi Samuel came close to the lives of sex-workers and prostitutes who he felt were pushed into the dungeon without any consent of theirs. For him, it became important to unearth their free spirit and happiness that till now remained buried under rigid layers of exploitation, torture and grief. A small audio-visual at the beginning of the show documented the story of one such girl, Alice (name changed) who yearned to see the light of the day but was suppressed by the ills of sex-trade that engulfed her when she was young and ignorant.

Collection and design: The collection ‘From Ashes to Beauty’ began on a sombre note with Lacoanet Hemant’s coffee brown gown in golden work with a veil and a wreath of thorns placed on the head of the model displaying the design. Colours and patterns slowly turned joyous and hit a positive note once the show gained momentum. Ritu Beri’s shimmered sharara styled in minute thread work and sparkling choli, JJ Valaya’s yellow-blue sari teamed with a gold decorated jacket, Tarun Tahiliani’s sequined corset and flowy skirt, Suneet Varma’s fuschia pink rose-petal studded lehenga-choli and Ravi Bajaj’s patch work black gown among others infused energy into the dull life of Alice.

Bollywood makes a presence: Vivek Oberoi was the Bollywood face of the evening who has many human-interest projects to his credit. He said, “My experience in Vrindavan had been life changing. I was shocked to learn the number of little girls pushed into the flesh trade.

Leander Paes ushers Alice to the ramp: Walking down the ramp with head hanging low and shy eyes, the brave protagonist of the evening, Alice made the entire auditorium stand up in a gesture to acknowledge her courage and strong will. Accompanying her to the ramp, tennis sensation Leander Paes stood moved and touched and uttered, “I support this movement with all my heart. I think I can be a drop of water that can create a ripple to make a change.” This was his plea for us to join hands to free other Alices from the clutches of sexual slavery.

By Punam

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