Shweta Prasad

Do you remember Shweta Prasad? The little girl from the popular teleserial Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki who gradually moved to some well-known movies like Iqbal and Makdee has been in the news recently. This National Film Award winner in 2002 for Best Child Artist for her performance in the movie Makdee was caught in a prostitution racket in a posh hotel in Hyderabad city and was arrested. She is now at a rehabilitation home in a 10-day custody.

Shweta was honest enough to admit that she got drawn into this trade because she needed money to support her family. She told the police, “I was out of money. I have made wrong choices in my career. I had to support my family. I got involved in this act to earn money as some people encouraged me to get into prostitution. I was helpless. I had no option. I’m not the only one to face this problem. There are many other heroines who have gone through this phase.” She was lured into prostitution by a pimp, who was supposed to be an assistant director and known by the nick name Balu. Balu lured her into prostitution by telling that many other actresses have done so. Shweta’s clients were some high-profile businessmen. This was Shweta’s third “assignment” and probably her last. Shweta’s service was fixed at Rs 1 lakh per client and Balu got Rs 15000 as commission.

Is she the only one?

It is very unfortunate that a young talented actress like her got involved in prostitution. But this is not a new story. This happens to many young girls of our country, including many young aspiring actresses from TV serials and movies, to get involved in this trade. There are hundreds of such Shwetas in our country involved in prostitution. Some get involved out of force, out of compulsion. Some as a need and some for the easy money. The real tragedy for young girls like Shweta is that they get name, fame and money and get used to live a luxurious lifestyle. They start dreaming big and expecting more. But when that easy money stops coming, they are lured into such activities. There are a large number of such young girls who are willing to go to any length to get a role. But then we cannot blame the girls all the time. Some really face the genuine problem of hardships in life and have no other option to earn money but only by flesh trade. But there are many who become actresses because of their talent and not all become prostitutes.

Why only Shweta in the news headlines?

My question is why only Shweta’s name is in the news headlines? No doubt the Telegu TV channel which undertook the sting operation must have become more popular. At whose cost? At the cost of an young actress who is not backed by high-profile godfathers or patrons. Nobody knows the names of her customers. Is prostitution an personal activity? Is only the girl and the pimp to be blamed? There is flesh trade because there are men who are making this trade successful. The businessmen who are paying Shweta are equally to be blamed. So also the provider of accommodation. And, if the police has collected all information as per the details given by her and Balu, there is no question that police do not know the names of these businessmen. Yet not a single report mentions the detail about these rich businessmen. Because of power and money, they can afford to keep their names out of the press and media.

Support from social media and Twitteratis

It is strange but true that people are really feeling bad for Shweta. Social media has shown sympathy for her. Hyderabad socialite Shreedevi Chowdary criticised the TV media and demanded the release of the actress. Noted author Taslima Nasreen tweeted “Sad 2 learn Sweta Basu, a fine actress, involved in prostitution. No better ways 2earn money? Don’t let anyone 2exploit u.” Director Hansal Mehta tweeted, “Stop posting pictures of Shweta. Put out the pictures of her wealthy clients and the pimp. Expose the scumbags not the soft target.” In fact, he has also offered her a role in his next movie once she is released.

Whom to blame?

Who do we blame? The society, the girls, the pimps or the customers. This is a very difficult question to answer. Is the financial constraint or lure of money that lead young women and actresses to get into flesh trade? There are many who get into it by force and don’t even know how to get out of it. This is a never-ending social issue in our country…

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