Her husband did not do any work and was a drunkard. One day he brought her to see the city and sold her to the brothel. He started demanding money and abused her regularly. When she got fed up and protested, the man took their son and went away. Till date she has no clue where her son is and she believes he has also been sold somewhere.
She works as a sex worker and supports her parents and herself. She fears every moment that she might get infected by AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases but has no choice. When asked what she would do when she ages or if she becomes ill, she says she has no idea. She yearns to come out of this trade and wants to be in some other profession.
After doing our specially designed course she said that she felt as if a weight had been lifted from her. She eagerly looks forward to our vocational training programs in order to find a way out of her present situation and to move on towards a life of self-sufficiency and dignity.
This is the story of one of many lives we touched in Sonagachi the largest red light district in Kolkata, India. Home to over 11,000 sex workers from India, Nepal and Bangladesh, it is an area rife with brothels. Our interventions seek to improve the living standards of these sex workers giving them a new hope.
Most sex workers live an unrelenting life by being exploited by brothel owners, pimps, local mafia, police and even their own families. They are faced with a constant threat of violence and crime and live under the fear of contracting HIV. Through our health camps and wellness programs we have aided their physical well-being and have helped them come out of stress.
It is heartening to see the change our courses and interactions have brought about in the mindset of the children of these sex workers. These courses help them to become free from deep-rooted stigma that has conditioned them to live in a state of low self-esteem and have robbed them of the joys of childhood.
How does the journey look so far?
Introduced Sudarshan Kriya
to the sex workers to help them overcome the stigma that they live with
Bal Chetna Shibirs
conducted for children of sex workers to boost their self-esteem and pride
Monthly medical camps
organized where check-ups were done and medicines were provided free of cost.Benefited approximately 700.
How did we work?
The women of the red light district are exploited and stigmatized by almost everyone they come in touch with. As a result, they were suspicious of our efforts when we first talked to them. We approached Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC) an NGO that has been working with them for the last 15 years to build inroads to the community and to win trust. It was only after this that we could start our initiatives.
What did we learn?
Most sex workers continue to work in the trade as they have no alternative way of earning their living. While a few of them immerse themselves in a hedonistic life of sex and drinking, most of them save for their children and family members from their meager incomes.
All they desire for is to live a life of dignity by coming out of the trade but their environment makes it extremely difficult. Equipping these women with vocational skills is just one small step to help them walk towards an alternative life.
How can you contribute?
We would like to continue our interventions in these areas and help more women and children. Private and NGO partnerships can help us to work towards that goal.