HYDERABAD: It is evening and an uneasy calm envelopes a remote corner of Jahanuma area of the Old City. Attached to an old haveli here is a horse stable which has been converted into several single-room accommodations. Some of these rooms are rented out to the poor at throwaway rates but has men and women moving in and out in a hush-hush manner.
A pan dabbawala, located a few metres away, gives directions to those making enquiries about the makeshift brothel, even as he simultaneously takes fresh bookings on his mobile. As it gets darker, the number of men frequenting this area swells.
Within a five km distance, at Habeeb colony in Vattepally, a densely populated slum pocket of the Old City, three members of a family are running four brothels that surround a government school. Both locals and social activists inform that similar brothels are functioning in Hassan Nagar, Nawab Sahab Kunta, Hafiz Baba Nagar, Amanagar, Kishanbagh and Bandlaguda where a chunk of the residents are migrants.
Observers say that even though the red light area of Hyderabad, Mehboob-ki-Mehendi, is history now, the flesh trade remains a thriving business here. The AP State Aids Control Society’s (APSACS) recent mapping of $*x workers during 2010-11 pegs their number in the Old City to an estimated 5,000 of the total 20,000 sex workers operating in the GHMC jurisdiction. “It’s almost on the same lines like in other parts of the city,” says Kailash Aditya, joint director, targeted interventions, APSACS.