A 25-minute bike ride on the Guna-Bhopal road in Madhya Pradesh leads to Bediapura village in Bhopal district, the home of Bedia community. Far away from civilisation, the village faces constant ignorance from the government and administration. Much of it is because of a socially unaccepted cultural practice observed here.
The women here lure in the sources for its primary form of livelihood. Yes, you read it right! Bediapura is notoriously famous for its culturally accepted sex work, where the male counterpart of the family act as pimps for the women and girls who are devoured by the man from the vicinity of the village as well as nearby blocks. This statement in itself is enough to make someone feel flabbergasted.
As one enters the community, two jovial girls jog past giggling. One can see a distinctively thick layer of make-up with a prominently bright red lipstick and lustrous hair flowing behind them. They hopped at the threshold of the village and glared at me as we entered the village.
Walking past the narrow serpentine lanes I felt the gaze capturing each and every movement of mine. Through that boulevard, I reached a courtyard of a house where a couple of old ladies welcomed us and offered us seats, the credit of which goes to our guide at the community who helped us navigate through a community for which we had created apprehensions from what we had heard from different sources. A wrinkled, aged hand had extended towards me with a glass of cold water. The old lady was once a sex worker who has gone past her heydays. The mark of an era gone by was distinctively visible on her forehead with contrition sprinkled over it.
As I rinsed my mouth and spit the water out of my mouth and washed my face, I was drenched with guilt. The old lady informed, “Beta! We walk 2 km to fetch water, please do not throw it.” The commonality with which I grew up is a luxury for many. The guilt of doing that choked my voice for a couple of seconds.