Nalini Jameela

Nalini Jameela (born c. 1954) is an Indian best selling author,[1] sex worker activist and former sex worker from Thrissur, Kerala. She is the author of the books The Autobiography of a Sex-worker (2005) and Romantic Encounters of a Sex Worker (2018). She is the coordinator of the Sex Workers Forum of Kerala (SWFK)[2] and is a member of the five non-governmental organisations (NGO).[3] She received Special Jury mention at the 51st Kerala State Film Awards for costume design for her work in the film, Bharathapuzha.[4][5]

Nalini Jameela
Born1954/1955 (age 67–68)
Occupation(s)sex worker
Sex work activist
Notable workAutobiography of a Sex Worker (2005)
Romantic Encounters of a Sex Worker (2018)
AwardsKerala State Film Special Jury Award


Nalini Jameela was born c. 1954[1] in Kallur village, Thrissur, India. She worked in the fields planting and harvesting crops[6] until her husband died of cancer when she was aged 24.[7] This left her with no means of supporting her two young children.[8] A sex worker[7] named Rosechechi introduced her to sex work. Rosechechi arranged her first client, a senior police officer, and she met him in a guesthouse in Trissur that was frequented by politicians. When leaving the guesthouse in the morning she was arrested by the police and beaten.[8]

She had left school after the 3rd grade when she was about seven.[1] In the 1990s she furthered her education at the Kallur Government School, eventually reaching the 12th grade.[9]

In 2001 she became coordinator of the Sex Workers Forum of Kerala (SWFK),[9] Under her leadership the SWFK held protest marches to draw attention to the plight of street-based sex workers.[10]

Jameela is a member of the five non-governmental organisations (NGO).[3] At the fourth meeting of the AIDS Counselling Program in Bangalore, she called on the government not just to distribute condoms, but to provide an education to sex workers and their children.[11]


Autobiography of a Sex WorkerEdit

In 2005 Jameela wrote the autobiographical book Oru Lyngikathozhilaliyude Atmakatha[12] (Autobiography of a Sex Worker) with the aid of sex work activist I. Gopinath.[1] The book sold 13,000 copies, ran to six editions within 100 days of publication.[13] Originally written in Malayalam, the book was translated to English in 2007 by J. Devika,[14] and into French the following year by Sophie Bastide-Foltz.[15] The book created massive movements in society,[11] and led to many debates and controversies in Kerala.[3] The book was condemned by feminists, who claimed it glorified sex work, and by conservatives who thought the subject should not be publicised.[1]

Romantic Encounters of a Sex WorkerEdit

In 2018 Jameela's second book Romantic Encounters of a Sex Worker[16] was published. The book was translated into English by Reshma Bharadwaj,[6] and also translated into Gujarati, Bengali and Tamil.[3] The book includes eight stories from the 1970s to the 2000s,[10] telling of the relationships she developed with her clients.[13]


Sanjeev Sivan, younger brother of noted film director Santosh Sivan, made a 28-minute documentary film, Sex, Lies and a Book, in 2013 about Jameela's life. The documentary was a joint venture of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Public Service Broadcasting Trust. Jameela appeared in the film.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e "Indian prostitute mum sparks storm with book". 20 December 2005.
  2. ^ Ittyipe, Minu S. (30 July 2005). "The life of the Silenced". Tehelka. Archived from the original on 3 February 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e "നളിനി ജമീലയുടെ ആത്മകഥ അഭ്രപാളികളില്‍" [Nalini Jameela's autobiography]. (in Malayalam). 26 October 2006. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  4. ^ "51st Kerala State Film Awards: The full winners list". 17 October 2021. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  5. ^ "നല്ലനടപ്പുകാരി ചമയാനില്ല; എന്റെ ജീവിതം ആരെയും ബോധിപ്പിക്കാനുമല്ല: നളിനി ജമീല". ManoramaOnline (in Malayalam). Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  6. ^ a b Jameela, Nalini (16 May 2018). "In a new book, Nalini Jameela breaks taboos and writes about her romantic encounters as a sex worker". Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Indian prostitute reveals all in gripping autobiography". South China Morning Post. 25 July 2005. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  8. ^ a b Ittyipe, Minu (14 March 2012). "The life of the Silenced". Tehelka - The People's Paper. Archived from the original on 14 March 2012. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  9. ^ a b " - Author Details". Archived from the original on 22 April 2016. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  10. ^ a b Mitra, Ipshita (18 April 2018). "Romantic Encounters of a Sex Worker: Nalini Jameela returns, with eight new stories from her past". Firstpost. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  11. ^ a b "ഞങ്ങള്‍ക്ക് കോണ്ടം മാത്രം പോര: നളിനി ജമീല" [Don't just give us condoms, give us life: Nalini]. (in Malayalam). Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  12. ^ Jameela, Nalini (2010) [2005]. Oru Lymgikathozhilaliyude Atmakatha (in Malayalam). D C Books. ISBN 9788126438105.
  13. ^ a b Pillai, Pooja (25 March 2018). "How to Talk about Sex Without Offending People". The Indian Express. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  14. ^ Roy, Nilanjana S. (6 July 2010). "Giving a Voice to the Voiceless in India". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
  15. ^ Jameela, Nalini (2008). Autobiographie d'une travailleuse du sexe (in French). Translated by Bastide-Foltz, Sophie. Actes Sud. ISBN 9782742775163.
  16. ^ Nair, Preetha S. (5 July 2011). "'Proud' sex worker Nalini Jameela pens her second book". India Today. Retrieved 27 October 2011.