Trapped by Tradition

Sex work is a way of life for thousands of women in marginalized communities in certain parts of rural India. For many, it is the only way to make money - also due to the Indian caste system and centuries-old prejudices which make it difficult for the families to escape poverty. But winds of change are blowing.

In certain Indian villages, sex work is, in a sense, inherited. Mothers and grandmothers have already worked in the same trade. In the past, they mostly belonged to ethnic groups that worked mainly as performers. The British colonial power criminalized them, and to this day it is especially difficult for the men of these ethnic groups to find regular jobs. Therefore, the female members of the family are often the breadwinners. They are the ones who take out loans, build houses, make important decisions, which is otherwise rare in India. Our reporters Akanksha Saxena and Neerat Kaur looked around the villages - and found signs of hope: The young generation is trying to leave this sad tradition behind and fight for better education and rights.

  • Akanksha Saxena
  • Neerat Kaur
  • Akanksha Saxena
  • Neerat Kaur
  • Deutsche Welle
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature, Television, Web / New Media
  • Runtime:
    12 minutes 30 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 15, 2023
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, Full HD
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Distribution Information
  • Deutsche Welle
    Country: Germany
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Akanksha Saxena, Neerat Kaur

Akanksha Saxena is an award-winning international journalist currently working as an editor with Germany’s international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle. She has more than 10 years of experience as a journalist with major broadcasting networks like the BBC and TRTWorld.

In her new assignment with DW, which started in 2021, Akanksha is a presenter and producer of an interview series about women trailblazers from India for DW Hindi. She covers politics, diplomacy, culture, and society for DW Asia as well as breaking news in western Germany. She directed an episode in the DW series called ‘CHOICES- Dare to dream’ which won a Gold at the New York Festivals, 2022.

Before DW, she worked as a broadcast journalist for the global 24-hour news channel TRT World, headquartered in Istanbul, Turkey. There, as part of the editorial team, she oversaw production, commissioned stories and planned long-term and breaking news coverage. She won a LAADLI PF award for gender-sensitive reporting in 2021. She has been deployed for the Catalonian referendum, G7 summit and refugee crisis in Europe.

In her four-year-long career as a HEFAT trained Newsgathering Producer for BBC News in South Asia, she travelled and covered significant news and current affairs. Some notable work includes coverage of the Nepal Earthquake, Sri Lanka’s Presidential election, India’s 2014 General Election, and India’s rape crisis among other significant stories for BBC’s domestic, international TV and radio outlets as well as online, on-demand and digital platforms. She has also produced digital stories, series, and radio documentaries in addition to writing for BBC online.

Akanksha has also trained young journalists from India in Mobile Journalism and Environmental Journalism modules organized by DW Akademie. Her write-ups have appeared in the German media.

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