Prostitution and Female-Subjugation in the Select Indo-Bangla Females’ Writings

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Indo-Bangla social structure is highly influenced by patriarchal values. Moreover, here cultural pattern, especially its values, beliefs, tradition, role and status, gender based attitude and practices restrict sexual activities and sexual behavior are usually restricted within the institution of marriage. In spite of social and legal constraints, a huge number of women and girls are involved in prostitution for which they are denounced, treated as unchaste and even untouchable, and ultimately rejected by the society.

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The root cause of prostitution is social structure that includes gender inequality and exploitation, violence, women’s inferior status, changes in social and economic institutions, etc. Whatever the cause is the prostitutes are subjugated. Simone de Beauvoir states in The Second Sex that the prostitute is a scapegoat who does not have the rights of a person. She is the sum of all types of feminine slavery. Carole Pateman views prostitution as one of the most graphic examples of men’s domination of women (qtd. in Masson). Actually, prostitution is connected to a dark world of sex, abuse, and violence where the prostitutes are just the sex objects to fulfill illegal drives of males. Prostitution is actually an arrangement where a man in exchange of money reduce a woman to an image of being mere sexual object. So, the clients of the prostitutes abuse them as prostitution allows men to unconscionably oppress and coerce women in order to satisfy their own fantasies through prostitution: Men are in the position of dominance, demanding and getting what they want (Sarah Bromberg). On the other hand, in the Indo-Bangla society prostitution is considered immoral, and so, the prostitutes are defiled and insulted. It is assumed that the sex workers willingly choose this profession. However, all of them are not involved with this dark life voluntarily. Some get engaged finding no other better option for their survival. The risk factors such as death of the only earning member, desertions and widowhood, generally, push poor women and girls into the scourge of poverty and sometimes compel them to be prostitutes. Some are dragged into such a shabby activity through kidnapping, abduction and cheating. Some of these women often want to leave it but social stigma, gender based discriminatory attitude and outlook of the male dominated society discourage them to do that. Even, after their death they are hated and not provided proper funeral.

Some Indo-Bangla Female writers have tried to disclose the tragic subjugation of the prostitutes through their writing. While Maheswata Devi’s Girabala, and Volga’s Ayoni depict how female children are being forced to be prostitutes through cheating in the name of marriage and kidnapping, Selina Hossain’s A Wild Flower shows how a female after being raped flees from her village and willingly chose the profession as a means of survival. On the other hand, Shaheen Akter’s The make-up Box displays how a poverty-stricken is allured to give a make-up box and taken in. Again, Suraiya Kasheem’s Where does She Belong shows the vain attempt of a prostitute to leave the profession. However, one thing that is common to all these stories is that these females are nothing but the sex objects to be exploited by the males. This paper is an attempt to explore how the select short stories by the Indo-Bangla female writers sketch the subjugated life of the prostitutes through their writings.

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