'Saving' Children : Documentary Born into Brothels ignores local organizing efforts
This piece originally appeared in Samar 19: Spring, 2005
Born Into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids, released theatrically in December 2004, won the 2005 Oscar for Best Documentary. The filmmakers describe their film as “A tribute to the resiliency of childhood and the restorative power of art, Born into Brothels is a portrait of several unforgettable children who live in the red light district of Calcutta, where their mothers work as prostitutes. Zana Briski, a New York-based photographer, gives each of the children a camera and teaches them to look at the world with new eyes.” The film industry’s recognition of Born into Brothels should give us all pause. Rather than tell us something new about prostitutes in India, the filmmakers reiterate a very old story of heroic white westerners saving poor brown children who don’t know any better than to persist in their dead-end lives. The popularity of the film in the U.S. indicates its excellent uses of melodrama, its high production values, and its tight narrative. Unfortunately, this popularity also points to the fact that a very old and palatable tale is being told about prostitution, a tale in which prostitution and violence are synonymous, sex workers are unfit parents, and the only hope for children living in red light districts with their families is to be taken away from them by non-sex worker adults who necessarily know better.
Court-based research: collaborating with the justice system to enhance STI services for vulnerable women in the US http://t.co/3vEaFQVO
The fractal queerness of non-heteronormative migrant #sexworkers in the UK by Nick Mae http://t.co/X7oGFeDI
'only 31% of the sample of indirect sex workers reported having been engaged in commercial sex in the last 12 months'
Old but good. Violence and Exposure to HIV among #sexworkers in Phnom Penh http://t.co/rkrRGiBa
Someone is Wrong on the Internet: #sex workers' access to accurate information http://t.co/aMSXhygd
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