“Whenever, in the history of the world, in times of darkness, a woman stands up against patriarchy, speaks about emancipation, tries to break free from her chains, she gets called a
‘fallen woman’. Many years ago, in the preface to my book, A Fallen Woman’s Fallen Prose‚ I
wrote about how I delighted in calling myself a ‘fallen woman’. It was because I knew that whenever
a woman has protested against oppression by the state, by religion, or by society, whenever
she has become aware of all her rights, society has called her a whore. I believe that in
this world, for a woman to be pure, to be true to herself, she has to become a ‘fallen woman’.
Only when a woman is called a ‘whore’ can she know that she is free from the coils of society’s
diktats. The ‘fallen’ woman is really a pure and pristine human being. I truly believe that
if a woman wants to earn her freedom, be a human, she has to earn this label. This title, coming
from a fallen, degenerate society, should be seen as an honour by every woman. Till now,
of all the prizes I have received, I consider this honour to be the greatest recognition of what
I have done with my life. I have earned it because I have given a mortal blow to the decaying,
rotten body of patriarchy. This is the true measure of the worth of my life as a writer, of my
life as a woman and the long years of my struggle to be the person I am.”
–Taslima Nasreen, in an autobiographical piece called ‘Homeless Everywhere: Writing in Exile’ *.
This work records some observations and ideas about practices of sex-work. The work shown here will also be presented in other forms such as performances, installation, film or a publication depending upon the course that it takes. The perspectives in this work come from feminist views about the body, sex and sex-work.
It was started by Raheema Begum, a writer and artist who came to be deeply interested in examining and stretching the issues of morality that inhibit as well as define women’s existences.
This work is dedicated to those women and men who didn’t have a choice. But it’s essentially not about the flesh trade and it’s ugliness, which is terrible, but tries to cast some light on contemporary ideas abut sex , and in so doing it could make a critical intervention in the area.
While the plight of the sex-worker is deplorable given the current legal frameworks in India and elsewhere, it cannot be set apart from that of the ‘house-wife’, and the sex worker is entitled to freedoms that the housewife cannot enjoy.
The work could also be a philosophical mediation on the idea of sex and bring about ideas about the give and take in sex and its relationships with power from a feminist perspective.
To know more about Raheema visit her blog Kauntext .
*-‘ Homeless Everywhere: Writing in Exile‘ ,Contesting Censorship, Sarai Reader 2004: Crisis/Media, also part of ‘Fearless Speech’, a compilation of censored texts, music, articles, prose, video and poetry put together by the Alternative Law Forum.