Batting eyelashes, imperceptibly meaningful nods help things along for the uninitiated."Sex hamara khandaani dhanda hai (Sex is our family business)," says Manju Thakur, 30, who's zealously protective of what to her is a lucrative livelihood.Diminutive but feisty, the sex worker is a Bedia, a lower caste community in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, where young girls, often in their teens, engage in prostitution with the consent of the community.This is perhaps the only place in Rajasthan where more motorists forsake the convenience of the flyover, taking the potholed side-roads instead to stop by or simply get a closer look at the daily spectacle."Dhanda chokha hai (Business is good)," Manju smiles reapplying her lipstick in anticipation of another temporary suitor.Manju and her sisters Nisha, 25, and Reshma, 24, as well as their 20-year-old bua (aunt) Chandani support a family of 40 including five brothers, their wives, their children and a brood of offspring from the trade.
Nisha admits, hesitantly, that she started out as a full-time sex worker when she was just 14.Often revealingly attired, with heavily made-up faces, accentuated by bright crimson or purple lipstick, they stand about beckoning potential clients.The imposing concrete flyover that bifurcated the Bedia basti in 2005 hasn't affected the trade."Squawking loudly to call my brothers when a customer became unruly was my only real sex education. But not every Bedia sex worker has the going so good.Fifty feet from Manju and Nisha's house washed in terracotta hues, Kaali (name changed) struggles to make ends meet.