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by Kate Hawkins
Last Monday, the UK Independent newspaper published a story about a new film called “Prostitutes of God” as one of its main online news stories. Made by a former Independent journalist, the film for VBS TV, is a sensationalist view through very western eyes of the devadasi system – which is equated with pimping, trafficking and abuse.
Within hours, sex workers in Sangli had begun watching the film, which was serialised in parts on the Internet over the course of the week. They were furious at the way they were portrayed, at the ethics of the film-maker, and of the misrepresentation of their lives and their religion. Their collective, VAMP, sent their community media unit out to film responses to the film.
This brief (3.5) minute clip is VAMP’s response to “Prostitutes of God”.
VAMP present their incisive views about sex work; religion and faith; livelihoods; issues of consent; ethics and cross-cultural sensitivities while making documentary films.
In the age of the Internet, people who used to be the objects of white people’s gaze with no right of reply now have access to the representations that are made of them, and the technological means to answer back. A westerner may seize the headlines, but there’s now scope for there to be a debate and to bring those who in the past would have remained voiceless victims into that debate to represent themselves. It is a great opportunity to put the record straight.
This clip has been produced by Sangli Talkies, the newly-launched video unit of SANGRAM / VAMP. Watch it on you tube!