In 2010, VBS (VICE) media produced a highly offensive documentary film, “Prostitutes of God”, which attempted to explore the cultures of Devadasis in the Indian city of Sangli, Maharashtra, and the northern regions of the state of Karnataka.
The documentary, which angered sex workers who were engaged in the filming process, resulted in an international outcry against the documentary and the film’s director, Sarah Harris – a former volunteer for an organisation which “rescues victims of sex trafficking.”
With the support of Veshya Anyay Mukti Parishad (VAMP), sex workers who participated in the VBS documentary created their own video response to the documentary: “VAMP responds to betrayal by Prostitutes of God film.”
VAMP (Prostitutes’ Collective Against Injustice) is a sex worker rights group with over 5000 members which operates across 6 districts and engages 120 sex workers as peer educators and advocates.
In the sex worker produced video response to the documentary, sex workers strongly condemned and chastised the film maker and identified many cultural and social misrepresentations of their community, including factual flaws in the documentary and a disregard for cross-cultural sensitivity.
VAMP’s video response counters the distorted perspective presented in the documentary with the sex worker community articulating their views and experiences of issues surrounding consent, ethics, religion, faith, livelihoods and attitudes towards sex work.