Mainstreaming Sexworkers rights Presented at : Cornel Law School, USA, 18th April. 2011 Dr. Smarajit Jana, Principal SONAGACHI TRAINING AND RESEARCH INSTITUTE (SRTI) KOLKATA, INDIA Email : [email protected]; [email protected] URL : www.durbar.org Scope of the presentation 1. 2. 3. 4. Background of the development Why sexworker felt the necessity to collectivize? The mission and vision of DMSC Critical review of the health intervention policies and approaches 5. Strategies of mainstreaming a) Advocacy at policy level for legal changes b) Legal Intervention c) Providing leadership in State and National level network / forums with other categories of workers d) Institutionalizing participatory management mechanism e) Social activism The Journey : Initiation of Sonagachi Project Following a base line study in 1992 a peer based HIV Intervention Program was developed to curb the transmission of HIV among the sex workers and their clients in a brothel named Sonagachi in Kolkata, India. The Intervention program was designed following a set of values (commonly known as 3’R’s) Respect : Basic human approach (restoring respect and dignity of the sex workers community) Reliance : Building trust and confidence with the community and relaying on their skill, strength and experiences (recognizing the role of human agency) Recognition : Viewing sex workers like any other worker in our society DMSC came into existence in 1995 As a fallout effect of this intervention program, sex workers got inspired and felt the necessity to collectivize themselves to build their solidarity and to raise issues which are pertinent to their life and occupation. Vision of DMSC Durbar’s vision: We seek a world where all the marginalized communities of the world will live in an environment with equal Respect, Rights, Status and Dignity. We hope for a social order where there will be no discrimination based on class, caste, gender, religion or occupation. All the people of the world will live in peace and harmony. Mission of DMSC Durbar’s Mission: To enhance a process of social and political change in order to establish right, dignity and improvement of social status vis-à-vis the quality of lives of all the Sex workers of the world. We consider sex workers rights movement is the integral part the global movement to establish the rights of all marginalized communities of the world. Why sex workers develop their organization? • To fight against police raid and atrocities. • To address stigma and discrimination. • To create supportive social environment for them and for their children. Slowly but steadily sex workers community started recognizing that the Health Intervention Program won’t be able to fulfill their aspiration : • Because of the inherent limitation of the HIV program • The ‘fixed mind set’ and the social attitude towards sex and sex workers’ community • The Law and the legal environment what ‘criminalizes’ sex work, worker and work environment. Gaps in the Programme (Ignoring “status syndrome”) In general HIV Intervention Program Strategies does not look into the position / social status of the individual and in the process ignore all underlying vulnerability. factors behind her Sex Workers’ Rights Issues A. Human Rights related issues – sex worker being a citizen of the country is protected by the constitution and by other legal instruments. It is expected that all these structure should promote and protect Human Rights of Sex Workers. B. Rights to Self determination – Adult Individuals’ Rights to choose any Occupation as a Livelihood Option i.e. Right to Sex Work. What is the ground reality? • Sexworkers’ rights are compromised in our society as two interlinked human rights issues (in case of sex workers) are in conflict with the ‘moral stand’ of the society • As a result of which sexworker has become the common recipient of all possible abusive practices by police and administrations. The policy framework of DSMC To promote and to protect sex workers rights – they believe that 1. Sex work and sex work environment must be decriminalized. 2. Sex work should be recognized as work. 3. Social attitude towards sex and sex workers has to be changed. Strategies for change • To create a supportive environment for legal change. • Influence the lawmakers and to bring them to their side. • Legal Intervention. • Social activism Process for mainstreaming sexworker rights 1. Help collectivization and mobilization of sex workers based on their issues and agenda. 2. Make best use of ‘Collective bargaining power’ in negotiating with policy maker. 3. Building broader alliances with other categories of workforce in the country Creating social and political space for the sexworkers • Holding workshop, seminars / discussion sessions with the academicians and intellectuals • Organizing mass communication program through organizing ‘open ground festivals’. • Opening discourse with policy makers at regular interval. Durbar’s advocacy work to influence lawmakers • Policy level Advocacy – Meeting with the parliamentarians – Meeting with the aspirant candidates prior to election – Arranging field visits Building broader alliance – Holding National Conference of Entertainmant Workers (2005) – Holding State level convention with unorganized labor – Holding 100 years of women’s day celebration through organising Mela. – Being a part of various social campaign movement eg. ‘Rights to Food’, ‘Rights to information’ etc, DMSC enhance their visibility. Building broader alliances Establishing DMSC- as responsible civil society organization • Organize relief program for flood/drought affected population • Engage in ‘city cleaning’ activities • Support victims of domestic violence • Run development program for similar marginalized occupational groups [Domestic worker, construction worker, Truck drivers and helpers. Social and Political Activism •Street level demonstration and procession Parliament March (2006) Midnight Procession Political activism-the known face of DURBAR • Held proceesion/demonstration on issues of social/political interest [eg. Against the attack of 9/11. Vandalism by Taliban in Afganistan, Communal violence in Gujrat, Attempt to gag cultural expression of artist, film director by the fundamentalists etc] • On social issues eg child marriage and dowry system • Fought for the rights of stigmatized entertainment communities and their due recognition as artist. • Support and collectivize indigenous communities [tribal] to establish their rights and entitlement. • Held Parliament March through mobilizing sex-workers all across the country to change the law regulation sextrade. DURBAR’s role in Championing issues of Marginalized Communities Durbar support development program for Tribal community. Helf domestic and construction workers in achieving their rights and social justice Legal Intervention • DMSC sued National Government to repeal clause no. 3, 4, 7, 18 and 20 ITPA Act. Major responses from Press and Media Creating new platform (to institutionalize self-regulatory mechanism) Institute a participatory mechanism in controlling sex sector with the involvement of other stakeholders To ensure rights and social entitlements of workers and their children sex To address all types of violence including state mediated violence in sex sector To prevent trafficking and entry of minor in sex work followed by their reintegration To create alternative livelihood options opportunities for aged and unwilling sex worker and SELF REGULATORY BOARD – COMPOSITION The Board is comprises of members from community and from different Government departments as well as representation from civil society organizations. 51% of members are from sex workers community with equal representation from central and local committees of sex workers Remaining 49% of members – Representing following categories a) Local elected members; b) Representative from Dept. of Health and Family welfare, c) Representative from Social Welfare Dept., d) Representative from Labour Department. Self Regulatory Board – How it operates to stop trafficking Monitoring entry of minor girls or forced entry into sex trade through A batch of peers and volunteers Assessing the age Physical appearance, conversation, documentary evidence, medical examination & advanced investigations like bone scan if and when required Adult: Assess Willingness Minor Counseling & Offering Options Return to families (DMSC ensures acceptability of families before returning the girls) Support Homes Boarding Schools Vocational Training Involving in other occupation (Elicit reasons for entry) Forced into sex trade Willing Counseling Information about DMSC Services STI/HIV/AIDS Social support Education Removal of underage and trafficked women Year Underage Girls Unwilling Women Total 2001 29 02 31 2002 26 07 33 2003 53 08 61 2004 129 20 149 2005 21 14 35 2006 82 23 105 2007 61 16 77 2008 72 78 150 2009 88 105 193 2010 42 67 109 Total 603 340 943 The impact of selfregulatory Board The proportion of minor (age<18 years) girls in red light areas shows decline over the period Year 1992 1995 1998 2001 2005 2008 2010 % of Girls <18 years 25.29 21.47 3.56 3.12 2.5 2.15 1.95 The median age of sex workers in the red light district has gone up Year 1992 1995 1998 2001 2005 2008 2010 Median Age (in years) 22 22 27 28 28 28 28.15 The change in the wind… Durbar’s strategies to mainstream sex worker’s rights agenda has made significal change in the social milieu.. • Sex workers could stall the introduction of amendment of ITPA Act in the Parliament in 2008. • A recent survey conducted among the commoner who participated in the mela held in Kolkata shows 78% of them support sexworkers rights agenda. • A pre poll campaign among the aspirant parliamentarian during … (2010) shows overwhelming support for sexworkers rights 67% of them signed in favour of the sexworkers 3 primary demands. The change in the wind…(contd.) • A recent meet (2011) of the parliamentarians in Delhi which was attended by 16 parliamentarians (including ministers) agreed to support all three sex workers rights agenda. • DMSC is one of the convener of the state level committees of the unorganized labour organization. [There are around 450 million work force belonging to unorganized labor sector] • They have been accepted as a member of the National Trade Union.