ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Beshya and the Babu-Prostitute and Her Clientele in 19th Century Bengal

In all its various manifestations, the profession of prostitution reflects the domination of the male over the female. This is particularly true in a capitalist society where, like other wage workers in a system that thrives on intensification of division oflabourand specialisation of skills, the prostitute is condemned to the exclusive role of a specialist in sexual entertainment. Stripped of all emotional and intellectual attributes, she becomes the female body. Reduced to a source of purely utilitarian needs, her body is required to produce the regular nocturnal fantasy of pleasure that deceptively fills up the vacuity of the soul of the alienated worker who comes to her as a client. This paper examines the transformations that the profession of prostitution and its clientele underwent with the introduction of new commercial and administrative relations in the 19th century colonial Bengal.

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