In "The Whorehouse in a Calcutta Street" Mahapatra challenges the dominant notion in society, which sees prostitutes as somehow subhuman. Mahapatra wants us to realize that, although the women portrayed in the poem may be society's outcasts, they're still human beings, with all the same hopes, dreams, fears, and emotions as anyone else.
The prevailing double standard permits men to seek sexual pleasure with prostitutes but damns prostitutes for providing that pleasure. Those men who cross the threshold of the bordello are only thinking of themselves and their needs; they don't stop to consider that most of the prostitutes they visit are mothers, eager to return home and be with their children. Indeed, the women who work at the brothel are only able to give pleasure to the men precisely because they have left their families at home to go out to work.
In portraying women who sell themselves as living, breathing human beings, Mahapatra is generating an alternative narrative to the one created by society, which licenses men to treat prostitutes as nothing more than pleasure-givers.