MUMBAI, Sept. 4, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The Swaddle, an independent publication based in Mumbai, covers health, gender, and culture has launched a new podcast series ‘The Last Courtesans of Bombay‘.
‘The Last Courtesans of Bombay‘ is a four-part podcast series that uncovers the secretive world of the city’s remaining courtesans. Hosted by independent journalist Kunal Purohit, it goes deep inside Mumbai’s last mujra kothas to reveal stories from the lives of its tawaifs.
Over four episodes, the podcast delves into the rich history of the profession – its glories, its intense focus on education, and the many legendary courtesans throughout Indian history. But this past is starkly juxtaposed against the decline mujra has experienced in the present, as the remaining tawaifs retreat further into the safety of their insular and secretive community.
Karla Bookman, founder and editor of The Swaddle, says, “We have to understand these stories in the context of the broader conversations society is engaging with today. Why are women with money, power, and sexual freedom so threatening? This moment in mujra history is an important lesson for understanding the ways true gender equality gets stymied in societies.”
Courtesans were once at the centre of our society’s public and social life, living a life of financial independence and sexual empowerment. But now, these courtesans are castigated as ‘sex-workers’ and marginalised from mainstream society. Immediately after the 1857 War of Independence, when the British checked tax records of citizens in Lucknow, they made an astonishing discovery – the city’s courtesans earned so well that they were among the highest taxpayers.
Kunal Purohit, independent journalist who has written and researched issues of gender and sexuality, said, “The podcast is an attempt to make people aware of the rich histories of the profession, the literature and art they created even while throwing light on how society has stigmatised these women and hindered their journeys.” For Purohit, who has written on issues of Mumbai’s bar dancers, the fate of the courtesans felt eerily similar to those of the dancers. “In both cases, society makes a judgment on women and restricts them from doing what they want to do, in earning an income, while ignoring the need to give these women their agency.”
The Swaddle’s series will be available in Hindi and English on TheSwaddle.com, Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Google Podcasts on September 2, 2019.
About The Swaddle:
The Swaddle, an independent publication based in Mumbai, covers health, gender, and culture.
About Kunal Purohit:
Purohit is an independent journalist who reports on issues of gender, development, right-wing politics and the intersections between them.
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