Durbar mahila samanwaya committee (Durbar in Bengali means unbeatable or unstoppable) is a collective of sex workers (male, female and transgender) based in West Bengal, India which represents the voices. Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC) has been active since its inception in 1995 addressing social, cultural and structural barriers that frame the lives and occupation of sex workers. However, the group of people involved in the creation of this forum have been active since 1992 in HIV programs.Lack of self-esteem and stigma attached to sex work and negative attitude of the mainstream society towards sex and sex workers forced us to live in the margin of the society.Durbar is explicit about its political objective to get sex work recognized like any other work and sex worker like any worker in our society. We are involved in advocating reform of laws and policies that restrict human rights of sex workers, and tends to criminalize us and limits our enfranchisement as full citizen of the country.
DMSC actively supports various kinds of development activities for the sex workers community which includes their children and lover (Babus). DMSC in addition helps collectivization and development of other marginalized communities in the country e.g. domestic workers, indigenous people, construction workers, fisher women and others and promotes their rights and dignity.
Principles of Durbar:Durbar since its inception articulated three interconnected principles which are known as 3R i.e., Respect, Reliance and Recognition.
• Respect and dignity to sex work and towards sex workers
• Reliance on the knowledge and wisdom of the community of sex workers.
• Recognition of sex work as an occupation and preserve and protect their occupational and human rights.
Durbar seeks to build a world where all marginalized communities live in an environment of respect, rights and dignity. Durbar hopes for a new social order where there is no discrimination by class, caste, gender or occupation and all individuals communities live in peace and harmony as global citizens.
Durbar’s mission is to enhance a process of social and political change with an objective to establish, promote and strengthen the rights, dignity, social status, and improvement of the quality of life of all sex worker communities. Durbar wishes to integrate the sex workers movement with the broader global movement to establish rights of all marginalized communities in the globe through.
• Improvement of image and self-esteem of marginalized communities.
• Addressing power relations within the trade and outside.