Male prostitution is real. A couple of days back I came across a December 2016 story by Youth Ki Awaz on a male sex worker aka Gigolo. After reading the story, I decided to reprint a story I did in 2015 on the same topic, where I spoke to a male sex worker and got to know his side of the story.
So, here goes the story...
An unexpected encounter with a 25-year-old male prostitute in Guwahati a few days back changed a lot of myths that I had about gigolos. With a strict request to keep his identity anonymous, this medical graduate with a niche for photography and travel speaks at large about his dual life. I have written this story from the first-person's perspective.
When I was in Class XII, I had my first sexual encounter with my classmate. Although we intended for a one-night stand, it turned out to be a lot more. Because after that night, we became too addicted to each other. Things were going almost fine until her maternal aunt, with whom she lived in Guwahati, discovered our relationship of benefits.
But things did not turn out the way I imagined. After meeting her aunt, I realised that the ‘discovery by chance’ was not that ‘coincidental’ after all, as my partner’s aunt knew everything about our affair from the very beginning. And on top of that, she recorded our lovemaking in a series of videos.
I was cheated and even felt that I was trapped and thought that I was in for some serious trouble! But here again, I was wrong as both the ladies smiled at my confused look and the older lady came near me and asked me to stretch out my hand.
Still confused, when I did not put my hand out, she forcibly took it onto her hand and placed a bundle of notes on my hand and said, ‘You are good. You will make good money. I would like to have sex with you and in return, I will pay you. I have a few friends and they will also like to have your service and they will pay you Rs 5- 6 thousand for one sitting. Don’t worry; with time, money will increase too’.
Still shocked, I looked at the money that she had given me. Six thousand it was. I counted twice. Even though the duo deleted all the videos in front of my eyes and said it was not mandatory to oblige them, still an unknown fear grappled me.
After giving it some serious thought, I joined the trade!
Deeper And Murkier
I was 17 or maybe a little more when I became a male prostitute. Initially, a guilt factor disturbed me from the inside, but with time, I felt okay with it. I began taking it just as a profession and then later stopped thinking about its moral and immoral values.
So far, it has been eight years for me in this profession and by now I have seen and learned a lot. The women who ask for my services generally belong to the elite class of the society- elite not monetarily but also academically. Several professors, doctors, and women from the ‘Page 3’ society are on my client list. Some just talk, and some are happy with foreplay. I even met a lady once who got emotionally very much attached to me and I had to put in a lot of effort to get her away from me.
I consider myself to be lucky, as the ladies who dragged me into this world did not harass me. And today, being a gigolo is my choice and I am in this profession only for the sake of money. I have a choice and I can leave it right now, but there are many boys who are not as lucky as me. They are being kidnapped and forced to adopt male prostitution. I have heard that some parts of the country even have ‘chaklas’ for men.
I don’t know much about the northeast, but in Guwahati male escorts are in high demand. Numbering them all in the fingers is a difficult task, but as far as I know, there could be around 300 male escorts presently active in Guwahati.
Male escorts are different from eunuchs or transgender or homosexuals. I am young and have an athletic body and this is an advantage. Women mostly prefer boys or men with tough features. They seldom welcome beer bellies.
‘Pink Massage’ is the code for a homosexual encounter and much often I keep getting such invitations. Thoughts have crossed my mind several times to try something ‘new’, but then again, I tell myself it will be too much. I am already travelling a different road and they should keep me satisfied. For me, a homosexual encounter is a big no!
See, I am a doctor and in my public life; I need to behave like a decent doctor. While I am with my colleagues or in the hospital, I am a dedicated doctor. Many times I have treated my clients in the hospital where I work, but there we behave like strangers. Maintaining secrecy is the main thing in this trade. I don’t know how you came to know about me, but if one journalist knows about me, I am sure there are several others who are aware of me and my secret profession. I thank you for promising to keep my identity concealed. But what if someone from the news channels comes to know about me? Will they spare me? Maintaining duality is difficult, and somehow I am doing it.
I have a girlfriend of four years and every time I try to speak the truth to her, I just can’t. The problem is, once she knows my reality, she will dump me and I can’t lose her. She has been the pillar of strength in my life and only because of her; I am gradually taking measures to quit this profession. The entry is easy, but the exit is difficult.
On The Female Counterparts
Life of a female sex worker or prostitute or whatever you call it is very difficult. Most of them are tortured and they are also underpaid. Some even get STDs. You must be aware of the organised human trafficking gangs operating in the country. These gangs abduct young girls and force them into prostitution. I can’t compare the lives of male and female sex workers. Every story is different. For me, life has been kind. Sorry, I can’t say more.
Crime against men is an almost neglected subject in India. Society, as well as the media, hence, give the least importance to the issues like forced male prostitution and male prostitution. Even we don't have comprehensive data regarding crime against men as well. It is only the child trafficking data we mostly have. Even though most of the trafficked children are girls, there are a few boys too and we hardly know about them as kidnapped boys get seldom rescued.
According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for 2013-2014, a total of 372 men in Assam were kidnapped and abducted for numerous reasons. NCRB sighted ‘forced prostitution as one of the reasons for which these men were kidnapped or abducted.
"Trafficked girls are generally sold to some brothels. So when the police raid these places, they get rescued. But boys (if they are kidnapped for flesh trade) are sold to random customers as there are no brothels for male prostitution. So tracking them is very difficult. We rescued a few boys some months back, but they were sold as bonded labourers and not pushed into male prostitution," informed senior police personnel.
Child rights activist and founder-chairperson of UTSAH (Universal Team for Social Action and Help) Miguel Queah feels that if a child is subjected to continuous sexual abuse by one single person and later the person also forces the child to satiate his/her friends, then it may be termed as ‘forced male prostitution.
“Someone who is below the age of 18 is considered as a child and any sexual abuse against him/her falls under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012. So even if an under-18 boy agrees to have sex willingly, in exchange for money or some favour, it will not be regarded as prostitution. Moreover, there is not much data about young boys being pushed into prostitution, so it is very difficult to say if young boys are forced into prostitution or not,” said the young activist when asked about his views on young boys being pushed into prostitution.
Not just prostitution, but even rape against men is also on the rise in the country. Though such cases are not yet recorded in Assam, insiders say that the rape of men in Assam is no myth.
“My uncle raped me when I was 18. He drugged me so I could not stop his advances," said a 22-year-old male rape victim of Guwahati.
“When I was 23, I went to my maternal uncle’s place in Nalbari. My grandmother and grandfather were out for marriage and my uncle went to his office. My uncle’s wife and I were alone in the house when she forces herself onto me. I was scared to speak a word, and this continued until I returned. Sometimes I feel I should become a gigolo. At least I will earn some money,” said another 26-year-old male rape victim.
A former male escort, while speaking on the topic, said that initially being a male prostitute is fun.
“Initially, it is fun as we get both sexual pleasure and money. But as time flies, the world gets murkier and one gets trapped in quicksand. It is very difficult to come out. A society might accept a female sex worker, but a male sex worker is something unheard and accepting him is next to impossible. Even though I left prostitution, many of my clients and their associates threatened me. We also have touts and when we exit the profession, these touts also become a threat to us. I have gone through a lot,” he further added.
Male escorts are not a myth to the city and if we google, we will encounter several links. Most of the escorts whom I interviewed for the sake of this article feel that they have had enough and want to exit this profession. But at the same time, they say that what they are doing is not a crime and that they are not wrong morally.
“After all, I am offering my body and I am getting paid for it and my women clients some sexual pleasure. If men can have the liberty to take services from female escorts, so do these women have the right. Why should men have all the fun?” quoted one of them.
Partha Prawal (Goswami) is a Guwahati-based journalist who loves to write about entertainment, sports, and social and civic issues among others. He is also a published author.