The red light area is a wholly unhealthy environment for women, men, and children. Infrastructure problems include an unreliable supply of electricity and water, as well as uneven roads and open gutters that are breeding grounds for contagious diseases. The cinema houses and video parlors openly play X-rated movies at all times of the day, and the inner lanes facilitate a constant flow of illicit activities in its gambling dens and narcotic joints. Furthermore, unlicensed medical practitioners run rampant in the area and advertise “special treatments” to cure sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which are highly prevalent among the women in the red light area.
Life in the red light area is centered on the brothels. Each brothel measures approximately 200 square feet and is divided by thin sheets or plywood into “rooms” of 20 square feet each. These cubicles, known as pinjaras (“cages”) are just big enough for a bed and are shared by anywhere from 4 to 15 women to service their customers. Often, young children sleep under the beds or play unattended while their mothers are with clients. As the brothels are used exclusively for sexual activity, women in brothel-based prostitution must find alternate housing when they are not soliciting sex, and the challenge of finding affordable housing renders almost 40% of them and their children homeless.
The majority of customers that solicit sex fall into four categories: businessmen, tourists, migrant laborers and the local community. Many of these customers are prone to harmful myths, e.g., that sex with children cures STIs and HIV/AIDS, that sex without a condom increases sexual potency, or that sex with a virgin restores masculinity. Due to this mentality and the absence of quality health care, there is a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the community, a high frequency of STI infections among the women who work in brothels, and high risk of very young girls being trafficked into prostitution.