Advocacy is an important strategy what DMSC has undertaken since its inception. Over the period DMSC has developed a separate cell on advocacy and liaison to achieve its mission and to fulfil its goal. DMSC created a dedicated advocacy team to carry out all activities related to advocacy and liaison.

DMSC used combination of strategies which includes advocacy, media mobilization and social activism in tandem to address issues of all kinds of violence and discriminatory practices e.g. eviction of sex workers from their place of residence by local pimps, harassment by police and local goons, violence from the intimate partners among others.

As sex workers are hardly able to access judicial redressal mechanisms, DMSC took the initiative to build liaison with the judiciary support system meant for poorer section e.g. NALSA, DALSA at State and District level. DMSC also work in partnership with professional NGOs who deal with laws and policies. Another area of activity is to advocate with the local councillor, MLAs, MPs and Ministers, who are the elected representatives of citizens. We often start our action with lower-level police officers which includes the staff members of the local Police Station, followed by higher level officers e.g. Commissioner, D.G., I.G., and others. DMSC’s advocacy program also includes liaison with media, politicians and with political parties, NGOs, intellectuals among others.

Major activities

Advocacy and lobbying are an important strategy adopted by DMSC to influence the mindset of the policy makers and people alike. We carry out advocacy both at local, state, national as well as at international levels to influence policies and programs linked to sex work and workers. We generally use number of strategies which includes advocacy, negotiation, media mobilization and social activism depending on the effectiveness of the strategies related to varied kinds of issues and challenges. DMSC engages with police and administration to minimize unnecessary police raids, harassments and extortion of money by a section of police officers who often belongs to the lower rungs in the hierarchy.

Advocacy with police

The current legal framework forces sex workers to live at the margins of the society. They are the easy targets for abuse at the hands of police and local goons. Survey conducted among sex workers in red light district shows that major perpetrators are the police; almost all sex workers reported experiencing some form of violence from members of police department. Sex workers do not view the police as the ‘protector’ rather perpetrators of abuses. Examples of police brutality experienced by sex workers includes murder and attempted murder, rape, gang rape, violence, arrests, disrespectful attitude towards sex workers and varied kinds of harassment.

Advocacy with policy makers

The advocacy team of DMSC reach out to the policy makers e.g. MPs, MLAs, Ministers, Political leaders,DMs, academicians, intellectuals etc.regularly and tried to make them understand sex worker’s life and livelihood related issues. Firstly, we identify decision-makers who are sympathetic to our views and issues and who are willing to lend their support. To begin with, no one showed any interest to listen to us. However,we never get disappointed but made frequent visits to theiroffices.Slowly and steadily we succeeded in influencing their attitude toward sex workers. We provided relevant information related to human rights abusesby police and others.

Advocacy with media

The media can be a strong ally for publicizing rights violations of sex workers. The main objective of media advocacy is to provoke questions in the minds of commoner. And it’s about getting thestories related to incidence of violence, responses from sex workers, etc. what goes to the press that is read, watched, by the decision-makers also. The prime objective is to get our point-of-view highlighted in the media that exposes challenges a sex worker face in her day-to-day practices. DMSC’s strong relationshipwith journalists, editors, etc. helped in publishing news articles etc.both in printing and digital media.

The advocacy team of DMSC regularly communicates with field level journalists, senior journalists, and editorswith a view to protect community’s interest and to expose varied kinds of exploitative practices of numbers of stakeholders. DMSCis conscious regarding protection of complainants from further victimization. DMSC also organizes seminars, workshops, meetings with media personnel in order to communicate news, case studies etc. in a way that accurately reflect the realities of sex workers’ lives.

Advocacy with “local stakeholders”

Local stakeholders have lot of influence on sex workers’ life and their occupation, which includes landlord/landladies, madams, pimps, shop owners, local club members, and members of local political parties and other influential persons who live in the vicinity of red-light areas. It has been witnessed that the sex workers are systematically harassed by local clubs who demand excessive subscription for pujas or other festivals.Landlords often unreasonably evict them from their rented houses. In additionto that abusive behaviour by their Babus, or lover is a pretty common.When such kind of incident happens and the situation goes against the interest of the sex workers and their children, DMSC took all efforts to negotiate with relevant stake-holders to solve the problem.

Our achievements:

As a result of 25 years of advocacy, DMSC is now in a position to register their voices both at State as well as National level. DMSC has made successful interventions to prevent criminalization of clients proposed by the Ministry of Women and Child Development during the year 2006.

  • Durbar representative functioned as a panel member of a committee constituted by the Supreme Court of India to deal with issues of sex workers under three broad headlines:
  1. To suggest how trafficking in sex work could be minimized
  2. To recommend ways to develop an appropriate rehabilitation program for those who want to leave sex work
  3. To suggest how to protect the dignity of sex workers who wants to continue in sex work.
  • In the year 2013, 33 Parliamentarians’ showed overwhelming support in favour of sex workers who collectively sent a letter to Smt. Krishna Tirath, Minister in Charge of Women and Child Development, Government of India, requesting her to make necessary amendments to the ITPA so as to restore the rights and dignity of sex workers.
  • During National election (2014) DMSC reached out to 423 aspirant candidate who were competing to get elected in the parliament out of which 258 of them(61%) put their signature in support of the DMSC’s three core demand namely:
  1. Removal of relevant clauses from the ITPA act what directly or indirectly criminalize sex workers.
  2. Inclusion of sex work in the labour schedule maintained by the Ministry of Labor, Government of India.
  3. To get full recognition of SRB as a valid forum to deal with all kinds of violence, including trafficking in sex work.

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