The city at dusk

Seram Neken *

"When my husband was brutally killed by the armed people during communal clashes, nothing except my two small daughters and a dilapidated hut was left at the far away abandoned village in Churachandpur district. Amidst the scare and tearful longing for months, we had to starve many a day. As an innocent housewife of 19 years, my option was only to die in the footsteps of my husband. However, I was compelled to live for I had to feed my small kids, the age of the smaller being only 6 months then. My elder daughter, 2 years by that time, helped me a lot in rearing her sister even while I was out to beg food from nearby village. I could not die, even though my fate dictated me to do so. My love for my daughters forced me to live, rather to sell my chastity as a woman. I was ready to do whatever that gave life to my children."

Twenty nine year old Mary (name changed) narrated her ordeal in the most sentimental tone. The sex-worker-turned-housewife who migrated to the heart of Imphal city out of necessity is residing at rent somewhere in Imphal along with her two daughters. Her only dream is to see her siblings complete matriculation and get suitable jobs at any agency so as to survive in this highly materialistic world. She wished her present HIV status would not dash her purpose of living.

Economic necessity, social unrest, communal hatred, irresponsible male behaviour, dearth of earning avenues, increasing immorality among both the male and female folks, lack of recreational room in society, absence of work culture among the males etc. are factors leading to burgeoning commercial sex activity in the Imphal city. Female sex workers are mostly widows and divorced or separated women. Unmarried girls aged between 15 and 25 years are the most demanded while married women in their later 20s and early 30s are the most common. Older sex workers act as guide, recruiters and agents of the new comers.

Although prostitution is globally considered the oldest universal profession, the changing scenario of the phenomenon in the heart of Imphal city and burgeoning number of commercial sex workers have probably threatened the aesthetic social values and civilised character of Manipur society. The infamous social recognition attached to the Manipuri women will lose its historic values, if we let it happen uncontrolled and unchecked.

The civil society mainly male-organisations and the government need to put efforts in checking the magnitude of flesh trade so as to save the aesthetic social character of this beautiful state. Sex trade or flesh trade is a necessary evil in society arising out of multitude of circumstances, it cannot be abolished totally. The only thing we may do is to check and minimise its quantum while keeping it under strict the social control. The civil society has to involve, instead of denying the changing face of the city.

Flesh trade finds its ugly appearance wherever there is human being. The magnitude of the problem determines the social values in man. Most unfortunate trend in Imphal today is the school going adolescent boys joining the queue of clients who mostly are easy-moneyed people. As intimated by a female sex worker operating in the city area, boys even in school uniforms vie for sex workers and spend nights away from home to indulge in this activity.

Emergence of mobile telephones has facilitated many sex workers to satisfy multiple number of clients in less time. Hence, daily earnings have raised nowadays. Average income for each worker which was hardly 200- 300 rupees per day earlier has now increased to 1500-2000 rupees. This in turn increases the probability of infections with sexually transmitted infections for both the sex workers and the clients. The sixth pay salary-raise and huge cash inflow in pockets of most easy-moneyed people also help raise the daily earning of the sex workers, besides escalating the number of female sex workers in the city.

Earlier commercial sex activities remain very rare and a stealthy affaire in Imphal. Today, it has become almost a normal business with those in the trade becoming more and more open. The sex workers have probably lost their sense of guilty consciousness being in the business. Most sex workers are alcoholic while a few of them are drug addicts.

Lodging hotels in the city particularly in Paona Bazar area and the North AOC even parade such women before clients, offer to select their likes and negotiate bucks. The trend has almost changed in recent years in such a way as it happens in the metros and in cities abroad. As per information received from NGOs working in this field, sex trade is burgeoning in Imphal city during the past few years with the highest concentration being at Paona Bazar and North AOC.

Other prone spots in Imphal are Thangal Bazar, Nagamapal area, Langol areas, Lamphel Sana Keithel, Lamphel Super market areas, Khuman Lampak, Dewlaland, checkon, Hatta etc.

There are around 1200 female sex workers currently operating this business in Imphal city. Many of them are suspected of having sexually transmitted infections including HIV. Around ten of the sex workers are presently registered under Ante-Retro viral treatment.

The picture everywhere is not the same. In some of Thangal bazaar area, female sex workers do the business with rich client businessmen in safe custody provided by the later. The public hardly recognise their presence and the trade is not as open as it is in other areas. Some of the liquor shops situated in Paona bazaar remain a rendezvous of the sex workers and their agents. With the careful manoeuvring of the so called agents, those females either go away with the clients or enter the booked lodging hotels.

Flesh trade in the city seems to be going on in an organised manner with strong connivance among hotel owners, security people and so called male and female agents. The older sex workers aged above 40s whose chastity have diminished with time, act as leaders to recruit new females into the business and earn percentages from client contacts. The sex workers lay strayed beside cinema halls and streets in the guise of cinema ticket black marketers, pan stall owners, and even as vegetable sellers.

Some of them unwillingly do the job for a bowl of rice a day. It is indeed shameful on the part of the chauvinistic male folk of the society that there are also men who bring their wives to the city, make them sell their sex and collect money only to spend time in drugs, alcohol and sex with others. Such stories of male irresponsibility are not bizarre happenings in Imphal city.

The Meetei Leimarol Sinnai Sang (MLSS), a non-government organisation has been working for intervention among the female sex workers since February 1999 with funding and support of National AIDS Control Society. The project has enrolled 1900 clients and is presently providing services to around 1200 women against the target of 1000 set at the beginning of the programme. The MLSS is also taking up another programme at Senapati district.

The Women's Health Clinic run by the MLSS at Khuyathong Imphal provide regular health check-up and counselling to the female sex workers. Sexually Transmitted Infections and various Opportunistic Infections are detected and treated at this clinic with proper counselling and free provision of drugs. Condom promotion, which is the only way for prevention against HIV and STI among the sex workers is one important component of the initiative taken up by the NGO. The NGO is also sensitising the community on the issue by way of organising routine discussion sessions.

One beautiful aspect of effort of the MLSS is formation of self-help groups of female sex workers and work towards their rehabilitation. Through the so called group 'Hingminnashi' formed under the initiative of the NGO, many sex workers are economically rehabilitated by way of micro financial support for running vegetable vendors and pan shops.

The MLSS is also nurturing around ten children who have been either left out by the female sex workers or are orphaned due to other circumstances. The 'Poirei Nawakol' situated at Koirengei in the outskirts of Imphal city remains a paradise for those children who are victims of the flesh trade.

Sex trade is an ugly business, the existence of which cannot be wiped out totally. However, it can be put under social control by way of providing moral education to the men-folk of the society. For the female sex workers, economic rehabilitation and health care are the only keys to pull them out of the business.

More recreation centres or clubs may be developed for the moneyed males to enable them to avoid such indulgence and join constructive activities. Only females who trade their chastity are not to be blamed for the burgeoning sex works. It is the irresponsible and immoral male folk of the society who need to change first. Otherwise, the present scenery of the city at dusk will certainly make Imphal to be always at dusk.

* Seram Neken wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition). (This article is filed under RK Maipaksana Journalist Fellowship)
This article was webcasted on November 14, 2010.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • PM at Science Congress @MU #1: Gallery
  • Yaoshang Water & color #3: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • A tribute to Stephen Hawking
  • Draft Asian Declaration: right to justice #3
  • Effect of a Sleepless Night :: Peom
  • Psychology at MIT School of Vedic Sciences
  • So near yet so far
  • Naga CSOs walking with JCILPS
  • Vegetables grown @Thanga #1: Gallery
  • Yaoshang Fancy Dress Contest: Gallery
  • Yaoshang Sport @Khagempalli #2: Gallery
  • Truth of Life :: Poem
  • Celebration of womanhood
  • HQ IGAR (S) celebrates 15th Raising Day
  • Jet Airways for more flights for NE
  • Publicity doing good, Garbage filth continue
  • Other issue overriding education: Class XII
  • Wortam: The Rising Young Mashangva
  • Eidi Ethantani by Eyoom :: Review
  • OMCT : UA on harassment of Ranjeeta
  • Mass destruction of opium poppy cultivation
  • Career options in printing press
  • IBSD launches hi-tech facility for farmers
  • Bangalore Yaoshang - Cheiraoba Thabal
  • Quality over quantity
  • What will the PM have to say ?
  • Zeliang gets fresh summon from NIA
  • Lui-Ngai-Ni @Longmai (TML) #4 : Gallery
  • Nengneingah, Lungkhambou :: eMing
  • Yaoshang Water & color #2: Gallery
  • Draft Asian Declaration: right to justice #2
  • BJP led Govt, not flunk in first year
  • The Killing Fields :: News Timeline
  • Demand handing of Pravish case to CBI
  • PDA Govt claims false credit: NPF
  • Feminism & Path to Women's Liberation
  • Word of caution from Ibobi: BJP to listen
  • Yaoshang Cooking Contest #2 : Gallery
  • Yaoshang Mei Loukhatpa #4 : Gallery
  • Radhakumar's Atoppa Sansar Amada #1
  • Nigol :: Poem
  • List of Portfolios : Nagaland Govt
  • Clarify: Report of Zeliang summoned by NIA
  • Academic Programs offered by PHFI
  • Cong speaks: Changes expected in future
  • One year under the BJP: Significant but..
  • Students @ Class X Exam #2 : Gallery
  • Yaoshang Sport @Khongman: Gallery
  • Draft Asian Declaration: right to justice #1
  • Cry Of A Dying River...21 :: Peom
  • Manipur-Nagaland border disputes
  • Not a word on beauty on Women's Day
  • Women Religious Tour reaches New Delhi
  • Yaoshang Mei Loukhatpa #3 : Gallery
  • Chirom Indira- Nari Puraskar Award: Gallery
  • Human Rights Defender intimidated by Army
  • Rooftop Solar Power Plants: Gallery
  • Home stay for nature tourism in Manipur
  • Moodle: A learning management system
  • You can't stop small newspapers ...
  • BJP show in NE State: The backroom boys
  • Moldhin Chan: A Thado-Kuki Folktale #2
  • Yaoshang Nakatheng Chatpa #2 : Gallery
  • Mapithel Dam, Thoubal River & Tumukhong
  • Yaoshang Mei Loukhatpa #2 : Gallery
  • Time for "Nokphade" to go global
  • Campaign on International Women's Day
  • War between Left & Right has begun
  • Poppy plantation, destruction & missing link
  • Security beefed up ahead of PM's visit
  • Neroca FC to gear up for Super Cup
  • Yaoshang Halankar #1 : Gallery
  • Yaoshang Water & color #1: Gallery
  • Harassment of Ranjeeta (HRA) by Army
  • Women's positions need to change
  • The Weeds :: Poem
  • We now know gold was created in space
  • Issues of women's rights should be priority
  • Protection of paddy land Act
  • Thabal Chongba @Khurai : Gallery
  • Bor-keina race @Yaoshang Fest : Gallery
  • Front Page Photo 2018 #1: Gallery
  • Tanushree @Elecrama Startup Award: Vote
  • Indian Science Congress in MU: Act East?
  • Fulbright 'pathways' for college leaving class
  • Job @ St. Stone Medical Devices
  • Army jawan martyred in Bongjai IED blast
  • National Integration Tour for Women
  • AR conduct Yaoshang sport festival
  • Condemns rising vendetta politics in NE
  • Yaoshang Sport - Marathon #1: Gallery
  • Yaoshang Sport @Keishampat #2: Gallery
  • NERIST Director post vacant since 2014
  • Dynamic Startup 3.0 at MIMS, MU
  • NDPP Legislature 1st Meeting at Kohima
  • 8th Theatre Olympics at Guwahati
  • Naga solution in 6 months: Nagaland Gov
  • All villages to be electrified within month: CM
  • IM denies involvement in attack on Army
  • Yaoshang Cooking Contest #1 : Gallery
  • Yaoshang Sport @Keishampat #1: Gallery
  • Sentinel Cup Equestrian #5 : Gallery
  • Translating inclusion into seclusion is..
  • Condemns land acquisition of muslim
  • News erroneously portraying Zeliang
  • Report: Shillong Lajong vs East Bengal
  • Yaoshang Sport @Khagempalli #1: Gallery
  • LGBTQ Yaoshang Sports Meet #1 : Gallery
  • M. Shenbangpu : Akademi Award 2014
  • Tribe: A concept in a state of crisis
  • Neiphiu's NDPP-BJP alliance stakes claim
  • Digital footprints: Blueprints for detection
  • Rio refutes news about 'Naga Peace'
  • Yaoshang Mei Loukhatpa #1 : Gallery
  • Yaoshang Nakatheng Chatpa #1 : Gallery
  • Yaoshang with Governor : Gallery
  • Black holes that are neither holes nor black
  • Lingaraja Temple- Lord of Three Worlds
  • Study helps hill student make up lost day
  • Yaoshang Mei Thaba : Gallery
  • Saroi Khangba #3 : Gallery
  • Chirom Indira: Highest Civilian Honour
  • Rejoinder to "MCPCR in dire straits"
  • Poppy destruction: The new norm ?
  • Stop harassment of Urikhimbham
  • Sadar Hills District Demand :: Timeline
  • Understanding the origin & essence
  • Call to reduce Yaoshang days: Make it 3
  • 8th AMWJU Sports Meet : Gallery
  • March Calendar for Year 2018 :: Tools
  • Yaoshang Thabalgi Sen Khaiba #2 : Gallery
  • Stop this shaming of menstruation
  • Yaoshang Greetings from BJP Manipur
  • Self-conscious manhood: Find true self
  • Parl Secy: To be or not to be ?
  • Holi colours can cause side-effects
  • Equality matters
  • Creating nuisance on the roads
  • Lui-Ngai-Ni @Longmai (TML) #3 : Gallery
  • Cultural @ Republic Day #2 : Gallery
  • Nonsense is Sense : Guv's attention invited
  • Protection of Human Rights: Resolution
  • Protection of Human Right Defender: Meet
  • Mapithel dam chapter before NGT
  • GOC 3 corps calls on the Governor
  • Gangnam style is better
  • From boycott call to verbal duel: NPF, BJP
  • Festival of Colours to Sports Festival
  • Food Processing Training @Oinam : Gallery
  • Time to ban malicious Moreh products
  • Cry of a Dying River - 20 : Poem
  • Training prog on Food Processing at Oinam
  • One year - now a doomsday ahead..
  • Thought on full five days of Yaoshang
  • Loree Kaju Luita Phanit #3 : Gallery
  • Yaoshang Thabalgi Sen Khaiba #1 : Gallery
  • Death trolls :: Poem
  • Culinary arts as career option
  • Wetlands for a sustainable urban future
  • 12th Annual Damms Sports Meet 2018
  • NPF files complaint with ECI
  • Social Media for Empowerment
  • The perfect leader
  • NPF on the offensive against BJP
  • Lui-Ngai-ni Token Celebration at Chadong
  • Sannaroisingee Numit 2018 : Gallery
  • Reminiscence of career as an aerobiologist
  • Automation in microbiology laboratory
  • India's 'Act East' policy : Unlocking Manipur
  • Indo-Naga Peace Process :: Articles
  • No question of merger with anybody: NDPP
  • SC/ST wants reservation in Private Sector
  • Delhi-da Thabal MSAD na sougatchade
  • Students @ Class X Exam #1 : Gallery
  • AoNna tEnaba :: Seireng
  • Thanga Keithel : Gallery
  • Catholic education : A Global perspective
  • Don't flaunt your license gun
  • Home-made hair oil
  • Meet on Natural Resources Protection
  • Tackling the traffic menace
  • Religion as poll propaganda : Disturbing
  • Lui-Ngai-Ni @Longmai (TML) #2 : Gallery
  • Sentinel Cup Equestrian #4 : Gallery
  • The Peculiar Cut :: EI
  • 61st CC Meet Football postponed
  • A Late-Night Song :: Poem
  • Cyber stalking - Omnipotent danger
  • Math in the Indic Scientific Tradition
  • Rebooting efficient governance
  • Ongoing campaign for ST status: Opposition
  • Moldhin Chan: A Thado-Kuki Folktale #1
  • Saroi Khangba #2 : Gallery
  • Konthoujam Kunjo :: Akademi Award
  • NEROCA Vs Churchill Brothers #2: Gallery
  • Chaotic road traffic system of Manipur
  • King maker vs King saver
  • NIT students meet Union Sports Minister
  • Think of connectivity with new technology
  • Congress down, not out
  • Phases of Manipur Culture #2
  • Loree Kaju Luita Phanit #2 : Gallery
  • Prof N. Irabanta : Legendary Aerobiologist
  • Cry of a Dying River - 19 :: Poem
  • Folk Dance @ Republic Day #2 : Gallery
  • Shopping for Shivaratri #2 : Gallery
  • March Past @Republic Day #3 : Gallery
  • Indo-Naga Talks 2017 :: News Timeline
  • Temples of Manipur : Gallery
  • Thanga Landscape with Loktak : Gallery
  • Likkon Sanaba @ Lamshang : Gallery
  • MaiOn - Scenes #3 :: eRang
  • Singcha Wuya Won @Kamjong #5: Gallery
  • Recipients of Akademi Awards for 2014
  • List of MLA (Jan 2018) #2 : Gallery
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic