Lndla sex wab

I would always ask my classmates and my professors about the epidemic; without fail they all assumed it was a Westerners' disease.

So since then I've been watching what has been happening to India with great dismay.

The last time producer and reporter Raney Aronson set off for India, she was covering traveling theater companies for the FRONTLINE/World segment "Starring Osama bin Laden." This time Aronson returns to the planet's second-most-populated country on an investigative journey, exposing India's AIDS crisis -- through the eyes of sex workers.

FRONTLINE/World Web producer Angela Morgenstern interviewed Aronson by email about AIDS myths, filming in red-light districts and the prostitute who became an organizer.

The first time I filmed on the story of HIV/AIDS was in 2000, when I went with the support of the Pew Fellowships [now the International Reporting Project Fellowships] in International Journalism to four [Indian] cities and focused on women who were HIV-positive and living and working in the red-light districts.

You have a pretty unique personal background: Your father is a medical doctor, but your mother is interested in alternative medicine. On this my parents pretty much agree -- they advocate for prevention and education.

But I've noticed that whereas the women are expected to be monogamous, the men are not.

I've also been told that even though the wives are not happy that their husbands visit sex workers, they feel powerless to stop them or even to question them about it.

I do think that the fact that the sex worker unions have stood up for sex workers' rights helps ....

In Mumbai, most girls are sold into prostitution and are essentially slaves to the brothels.

In Kolkata, many of the girls are born into it -- and while they have no choice but to be sex workers, there's a different level of respect.

Some have described Kamathipura, the red-light district in Bombay [also known as Mumbai], as the "fleshy center of India's HIV time bomb." Can you talk about sex workers and the conditions they face in Bombay? In Kolkata [Calcutta], there is a sex worker union that is fighting for the right to be legal.

For the most part, sex workers in Mumbai face what sex workers around the world face -- many of them are sold into prostitution as young girls and are not there by choice. Many of the brothels in Mumbai are run by local Indian mafia, so there is no way for advocacy groups to work with [the prostitutes] when it comes to prevention of HIV. They say this will help them fight HIV and AIDS because it will give them the proper rights they need to stand up for themselves.

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