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

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Vicious Cycle of Stigma

“Is a Ragpicker’s Child Likely To Be a Ragpicker?” by Venkatesh Murthy R (EPW, 27 February 2016) reminds me of children of female sex workers in red-light areas. Ragpicking, sex work, and so forth (as parental occupations) are considered a stigma by mainstream ­society. In female sex worker communities, the stigma attached to children reinforces a vicious cycle that does not allow mobility.

Just like ragpickers, they are not accepted by society. In a study at Bowbazar red-light area in Kolkata, it was found that children of female sex workers were not provided a comfortable environment in their schools. Schoolteachers, classmates, and peers insult such children regarding their place of residence and their mothers’ occupations, which influence many to quickly drop out. They also face different remarks from society at large in public spaces such as playgrounds outside their community. Thus, their upbringing is largely confined to their community.

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