Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee


Combating HIV Epidemic

There was a time when it was usual to link the AIDS issue to public health and medicine only. The passage of time, accumulated experience and wisdom has demonstrated that the issue is much too complex to be seen from a medical viewpoint alone. The Programme can achieve success only if it addresses the wider sociological and environmental issues associated with the disease. And our realization has left its mark on the development of the Program.

Based on this realization, SHIP has today ceased to be just a medical intervention project. It has assumed a wider dimension and has adopted a holistic approach towards this threat to the world of man. Durbar's eyes have opened to the fact that sex workers only can serve as the best change-agents to fight AIDS and they cannot play this role unless society recognizes their professional rights and regards them as human beings. That is how Durbar became the first of its kind in Asia.

Phase 1: [1992-1997] Building self esteem, Mobilization of Sex workers community.

Introduction of three "R" s: Respect, Reliance and Recognition.

Leads to the development of self-organization of Sex workers (DMSC)

Scaling up of intervention program in and around city Kolkata

Responding to the perceived needs of the community, DMSC- Introduced of non formal education program for sex workers as well as for drop out children.

To reduce economic vulnerability:

 

- Initiation of USHA Co-operative Society.

To create space for cultural expression

 

- Creation of a cultural wing (Komol Gandhar)


Phase 2: [1998-2002] Hand over of project to the sex workers collective, DMSC

Broadening the base of intervention (horizontal expansion of the programme to support children, middle man, babus (clients) and other family members of sex workers)

Moving from vertical HIV intervention project to social approaches to health development. Incorporating and strengthening program for the children of sex workers, fixed clients.

Expanding the social security frame work

Community mobilization process moves beyond the geographical boundary leading to the development of national Network of Sex Workers followed by a national conference held at Kolkata in 1997. (More than 4000 sex workers attended the conference from all across the country).

Rapid expansion of HIV program by 2001 DMSC initiated intervention program in 51 sites covering more than 40,000 sex workers all around the state of West Bengal. DMSC support.

The expansion of activities of Usha Multipurpose Co-operative Society Limited (USHA) to ensure economic security of sex workers vis-a- vis their negotiating power for safer sex practices.

Development of Mamata Care and Treatment Center established to address issues and challenges of HIV positive women and strategize to address stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA)

DMSC entered into the Anti-trafficking Program through developing an unique approach in creating of Self-Regulatory Board (SRB). SRB took a serious attempt to prevent the entry of minors and unwilling women into sex sector and acts as principle arbitrator in dealing with incidence of violence in sex work settings.

To further institutionalize the process of learning DMSC has set up two libraries, one in Kolkata and the other in Kanthi, in Midnapore district.


Phase 3: [2003-2007]

Institutionalization of learning process

Influencing policy changes - through social and political activism

Building strategic alliance with different marginalized communities

DMSC plays proactive role in influencing Donors and Policy makers in HIV programming, helping policy makers in articulating critical elements of intervention. [ "Creating Enabling Environment" in National AIS Control Program-II (NACP-II) and "Community Organizing and Ownership building" in NACP-III as a part of IV prevention strategy among different vulnerable groups e.g. Sex workers, IDUs and Truckers etc.

DFID and Bill Gates Foundation decided to replicate the Sonagachi model of in six high HIV prevalent States of India.

Theorization of Programming Principles of Sonagachi project, which is articulated as 'Community Led Structural Intervention' (CLSI). The various programme frameworks has made a paradigm shift in HIV Prevention

Introduction of 4Ds; De-stigmatization of STI cases, De-mystification of the technical aspects of STD services, De-centralization of medical services Democratization of STI management services in STI management process.

Expansion of research activities and collaboration with different Universities and agencies both within and outside the countr

Formation of the Community Led Capacity Building Unit CL-CAB; consisting of technical experts and community leader expert from sex workers, who provide help, building skills and leadership on issues around HIV/AIS programming across 6 states in India.

Expanding program's horizon to tribal community and entertainment industry. The organization has recently up scaled its program and outreached its multitude of developmental activities among the tribal communities of West Bengal. In addition to that DMSC is now all set to enter into the arena of Entertainment industry with an objective to ensure the social and economics security of the entertainment workers an to explore opportunities that can initiate a sustainable developmental process for the enfranchisement of this community.


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