Agence France Presse (08.11.03) - Friday, August 15, 2003
In India's eastern state of West Bengal, sex workers are
studying the Kamasutra, the ancient Hindu treatise on sex, in
an attempt to stem the tide of HIV/AIDS and other STDs.
The nongovernmental organization Institute of International
Social Development last week began a six-month workshop in the
state capital, Calcutta, instructing sex workers on how to
minimize sexual contact with customers. "The workshop teaches
sex workers erotic postures, the art of having sex without
intercourse. We are calling it safe sex," said Rajyashree
Chaudhuri, head of IISD.
According to Chaudhuri, who promotes condom usage in the
city's red light district, the program began after sex workers
complained of losing customers who were forced to wear
condoms. "The erotica, mainly derived from the ancient Hindu
book the Kamasutra, describes sexual union through 64 postures
which offer ultimate sexual pleasure without intercourse," she
Initiated as an experiment, the workshop aims to change the
behavioral patterns of sex workers as well as their customers.
"We will assess the progress of the program after six months,"
India recently announced a sharp rise in its number of
HIV/AIDS cases, from 3.97 million cases in 2001 up to some
4.58 million at the end of 2002. Sachichidananda Sarkar,
assistant director of the state-run West Bengal AIDS Control
Society, said HIV cases were rising in the state. "Last year,
more than 600 HIV cases were detected adding to the total of
1,140 cases across the state," said Sarkar, who noted that
even when condoms were used in brothels they are often of poor
quality and ineffective at checking the spread of STDs.
In Calcutta, home to 20,000 of the estimated 70,000 sex
workers in West Bengal, the workshop is proving popular with
the sex workers who attend the sessions during the day when
business is slow.