Towards a better life: Sex workers take charge Towards a better life: Sex workers take charge With the help of 15 NGOs, sex workers across Mumbai have started a self-help movement through which they solve their problems TNN Dec 6, , When Kusum's three-month-old son was kidnapped six months ago, she was convinced she would never see him again.
A commercial sex worker from Koperkhairane, she felt she wasn't "privileged'' enough for the police to help her out. But by the eighth day, the police had tracked down her son, who had been sold to a childless couple. She died penniless in her tiny room in the Airoli township of Navi Mumbai. Not one of her neighbours was ready to help lift the her body down the narrow staircase. Yet her last rites were carried out, and her mother and children were given Rs 22, The invisible force at work, in both instances, was a new-found bonding between the commercial sex workers themselves.
Over the last two years, at least 50, sex workers across Mumbai have joined Aastha: When in trouble, commercial sex workers can turn to the nearest Aastha gat group member, and help will be given. This is the underlying principle that has made the movement a successful one. When Asha, who lives in Thane and is the incharge of the Aastha gats groups in the Thane-Navi Mumbai belt, gets a call, she hops onto her bike, and heads to the destination.
Initially, she was sceptical of the success of the project, but months of observing a support system of doctors and counsellors returning to the red-light areas, convinced her of the group's efficacy.
What changed her mind was an Aastha office-bearer who helped solve her daughter's marital problems. Kiran's death would have gone unnoticed if her neighbourhood Aastha group's didi had not noticed her absence.
Names of the women have been changed to protect their identity The project: Download The Times of India news app for your device. Read more City news in English and other languages.