COMBATING HIV EPIDEMIC (HEALTH)
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
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
- To create space for cultural expression – Creation of a cultural wing (Komol Gandhar)
- 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 45 sites covering more than 20,000 sex workers all around the state of West Bengal.
- 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 Network of Positive Women 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.
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 AIDS Control Program-II (NACP-II) and “Community Organizing and Ownership building” in NACP-III as a part of HIV 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 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 STI 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 country.
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/AIDS 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 economic security of the entertainment workers and to explore opportunities that can initiate a sustainable developmental process for the enfranchisement of this community.