Sonagachi

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The largest red-light district in Kolkata (India) is Sonagachi. The area came to be known as Sona Gachi from a Sufi saint Sona Ghazi whose tomb (mazaar) is located in the locality. It is an area with several hundred multi-story brothels, and around 10,000 sex worker hookers.

Sonagachi is located in North-Kolkata near the intersection of Chittaranjan Avenue Sova Bazar and Beadon Street, just north of the Marble Palace. In the year 2013, the rates of protitution (Sex) in Sonagachhi varies from Rupees 300 to Rupees 10,000 for one night enjoyment (present price of Indian money is Rupees 65 for one American Dollar). No other red-light areas in Kolkata city has so much difference in their enjoyment rates.

Previously there were many Bengali prostitutes in Sonagachhi. But now-a-days Rajasthani and Khamia-Nepalese prostitutes have gained in number. There are 'Agrawalis' (prostitutes from a community near Agra city). According to class-division, the red-light areas of Kolkata are also divided into four different classes: poor-class, lower-class, middle-class, and rich-class. For example, The red-light area which once existed opposite to the diagonal angle of Khanna Cinema Hall was of 'poor-class'. When they contacted customers, they asked them "Khaat-e na chot-e" ? Which means, "Do you want to sleep in wooden cot or on jute-sheet spread over the floor ?" As customers wished, the fee varied according to their choice. The lower-class and middle-class of prostitute areas were scattered around Haarkaata Gully and near Chetla/Kalighat bridge. The areas near Rippon Street or Elliot Road could not be exactly referred as a 'prostitute area'. Mainly Anglo-Indian citizens lived there. Prostitutes who also lived there in different houses, they used to do their business in Kothhas or Kuthhis (small empty rooms for prostitution purpose only) scattered over the area. The Bengali customers generally never visited those Kuthhis . In Sonagachhi,few houses can be seen marked with the lines, "ইহা ভদ্রলোকের বাড়ী" which means, "This is a gentleman's house". People who are not involved in any way with prostitution business and do other good jobs, and lived in their family-owned houses for many years, but who have not been able to move out of the area due to financial or other reasons, they have marked their houses as such so that they are not disturbed by customers or any other persons in any way.

There are some difference between the character of Sonagachhi and Soho of London or Pigul of France. The character of race courses and red light areas of different cities of the world are almost same. But the character of Sonagachhi is a little bit different. Prostitution in Kolkata is illegal like many other big cities of the world. Though it is flourishing right in front of the nose of the administration. And for some "legal-show business" the police sometimes conduct raids to show that they have been doing their so-called "government duties" or "law-protecting duties" in those areas. The police hide in the alley and corners of the streets of Sonagachhi in their vehicle in the nights and regularly pick up some customers and send them to the police lock-up. After paying the 'government tax' they are released. The prostitutes and pimps are never touched in those 'raids'. Generally two trips of raids are conducted in the nights. The people there make joke naming those raids as 'Matinee' and 'Evening'. The 'Evening' raids are conducted at late night 1:30 or 2:00 hours.

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