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Many of the 7, sex workers in this Kolkata red-light district say they have no other options for survival. They stare as year-old Geetha Das, sporting kohl-lined eyes, strides by purposefully - but she barely glances at these pimps and middlemen. Das has been a resident of Sonagachi, which is home to about 7, sex workers, since She was 16 years old at the time. Born in India's eastern state of Bengal, in an impoverished area known as North 24 Parganas, Das was married off at age 12 to a year-old man. His abusive and violent behaviour caused Das to return to her parents' home, along with her two children. Poverty and hunger forced Das to head to the bustling metropolis of Kolkata in search of a job. A friend brought her to Sonagachi - a move that, she said, secured her children's future.
The pictures of women applying their make-up, waiting in their rooms and playing with their children offer a rare glimpse into the lives of the sex workers who ply their trade in Asia's largest red light district. They are the residents of Sonagachi, in the western city of Kolkata, an area swamped with hundreds of multi-storey brothels, housing roughly 14, prostitutes from all over India. It is thought as many as 1, women arrive every year to work in the brothels, and each of them have their own tale of how they came to live in the sprawling red light district. Scroll down for video. Sex workers: 'Rani' applies lip gloss at her room before attending a customer at the Sonagachi brothel where she works. Thousands: 'Dipali' poses for a photograph at her room. Lifetime: Maya Banarjee, 72, dries her hair after a shower in the Sonagachi brothel. A number of women have lived their lives here. Exhausted: A sex worker sleeps in her small room. Many of the women have been trafficked, and are forced to work throughout the night.
By Tom Gillespie TomGillespie1. The seedy world of Sonagachi in Kolkata, India, is swamped with hundreds of multi-storey brothels, housing roughly 14, prostitutes from all over India. Many of the sex workers have been trafficked into the profession, and are forced to sleep through the day and work tirelessly through the night. Other women have made a conscious decision to join the trade with the promise of higher earnings than their previous position. At weekends the red light district buzzes with customers of all ages from a range of different professions. Each sex worker has their own story, with some claiming to have found a better life since arriving in Sonagachi. Although the sex workers earn good money, local businessmen take advantage by upping what would be the normal price of commodities. Maya Banerjee, 72, spent years working as a prostitute but says she is now too old for the sex trade. Despite no longer being able to work, Maya chooses to remain in the red light district where she has spent most of her life.