Despite living in the 21st century, sex is still considered a taboo, a bad word. Spoken in hushed voices and accompanied with the feeling of shame if you openly talk about it. Hence it comes as no shocker that sex workers in Kolkata are methodically ostracized by the so-called Bengali bhodrolok. Sex workers carry this unbearable and unjust burden of social stigma around their necks for all their lives – and are considered dirty, loose women by society.
Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee – A Force To Reckon With
The women of Kolkata’s red light districts are treated like dirt in broad daylight. Owing to their profession, they face a lot of hate and violence in their everyday life. Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee has taken up the role of a friend to these women as they aim to empower them and protect their basic human rights that are violated often.
Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee demands respect for sex workers in Kolkata.
They believe that women and men, sex-worker and non sex-workers are equal, should have equal rights and should participate equally in society. Sex work is just work, and the sex workers have every right to determine her life and profession.
From Cultural Performances To Seminars, Durbar’s Got Their Back!
The Durbar is a collectivization of 65000 sex workers, functions as an exclusive forum of female, male and transgender sex workers in West Bengal, India.
They are a no-government, not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the lot of sex-workers, specifically in Sonagachi, Kolkata, India.
They host a wide array of activities, projects and campaigns with respect to social issues and raising awareness on the lives of sex workers in Kolkata.
These often include awareness about health care like HIV epidemics, anti trafficking, gender inequality and more.
Durbar also has a cultural wing as well. All Durbar cultural activities are used pragmatically as tools for HIV prevention work – raising awareness and challenging stigma, and also used as a strategic front to sharpen Durbar’s movement in highlighting sex workers’ rights, bringing sex workers’ demands into the public arena, and challenging dominant stereotypical representations of sex work and sex workers.
This gives sex workers and their children an opportunity to enjoy and have a space to express through cultural performances. This not only helps them express their creativity, but also helps them to pacify some of the violent experiences of being sex workers or children of sex workers. According to Durbar, it gives sex workers a ‘voice’ to negotiate with mainstream society.
Click here to read about the time sex workers from Sonagachi set up food stalls during Durga Puja last year.
Click here to check out Durbar’s website
On account of International Women’s Day 2018, we went around the streets of Kolkata asking people about the most special woman in their lives. Here’s what they had to say.