India

Asia 'biggest' red light district gets makeover

A general view of a painted building at Sonagachi red light district in Kolkata Image copyright EPA

Transgender artists have been giving a colourful makeover to the red-light district of Sonagachi in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta).

The picture above shows a mural painted on a building which houses a co-operative of sex workers.

Said to be Asia's largest red-light district, Sonagachi, a warren of narrow streets and winding bylanes in central Kolkata, is home to at least 11,000 sex workers.

Image copyright EPA

Working with a Bangalore-based art collective, transgender artists painted murals on some of the buildings as part of a social awareness campaign about sex workers' rights and also to try to prevent violence against women.

This mural took a week.

Most of the brothels are in a dilapidated condition, and sometimes co-exist cheek-by-jowl with residential homes.

Image copyright EPA

Walls in the congested neighbourhood have also been painted.

Image copyright EPA

Here commuters and traders are seen by one of the painted walls. There are plans to paint more buildings in the district.

Image copyright EPA

Prostitution remains a major problem for India, where some three million women are believed to be engaged in the sex trade.