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Sex workers join hands to fight AIDS, trafficking

Staff Reporter

Community-based organisations formed


District level Mana Mahila Mythri Sangham constituted in Chittoor

Training in Kalamkari, embroidery imparted to CBO members


TIRUPATI: Sex workers of Chittoor district have formed into organised groups of Community Based Organisations (CBOs) to recommit themselves to create awareness on prevention of HIV/AIDS and check women trafficking.

‘Sree Shakti Sangham’, a district network of Female Sex Workers (FSW) that formed into a CBO observed March 3 as ‘International Sex Workers Day’ at Srikalahasti on Tuesday.

The day marks the congregation of 25,000 sex workers in Kolkata in 2001 as part of a sex workers festival, when they reiterated their right for self-determination and commitment towards HIV/AIDS prevention, basing on which the event is observed across the world on this day.

1,410 members

STEPS, a voluntary organisation that coordinates FSW activities entered into a partnership with Alliance India – Andhra Pradesh (AIAP) and has been working with 1,410 members identified to be from high risk groups like FSW, Men having sex with Men (MSM) and People living with HIV/AIDS (PLHAs) in Srikalahasti, Puttur, Pichatur, Satyavedu and Thottambedu mandals of the district. All the centres in the above districts are extending services like outreach, clinical counselling , healthy practices to prevent HIV/AIDS, advocacy and community mobilization support from line departments.

Activities

The 163 members in the six CBOs were recently formed into a district-level network ‘Mana Mahila Mythri Sangham’ to conduct district-level advocacy activities for better and effective implementation of the project.

Apart from conducting advocacy meets with police and lawyers, the CBO conducts training in Kalamkari painting and embroidery to its members to improve their living standards.

Similarly, People’s Action for Social Service (PASS), a Tirupati-based NGO, has five active sites spread across places like Tirupati town, Tiruchanur and Chandragiri, which coordinates 12,000 members.

“The unique feature of both the CBOs is that they have organised themselves into formidable groups that work with the community and for the community by taking up information dissemination for the benefit of their own members”, T. Prashanth, coordinator of Hyderabad-based Centre For Advocacy and Research (CFAR) told The Hindu.

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