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Amina’s story: How vocational training changed a sex worker’s life

By Anupama K,#COVIDActionCollab

March 24, 2022

Amina* works in a beauty parlor run by her daughter in Mumbai, Maharashtra. She used to be one of the nearly 10 lakh people** engaged in sex work in India to make ends meet. “Now Amina earns a stable income from the beauty parlor, she is no longer engaged in sex work and doesn’t want to return to Nashik where she lived and worked earlier,” said Akash Rayare, who works with Disha Mahila Bahuddeshiya Sanstha (DMBS) – a partner organization of the #COVIDActionCollab (CAC).

The pandemic and the subsequent lockdown paralyzed the global economy. It changed the lives of Amina and many female sex workers like her. With their livelihoods coming to a standstill, they were left with no other choice but to resort to the dry ration kits and free meals provided by organizations like DMBS which work closely with the vulnerable communities in Nashik such as sex workers and transgenders.

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With the social stigma and discrimination attached to sex work, the women engaged in this profession face many challenges in their daily lives, and the pandemic only exacerbated this. During the pandemic, it became increasingly difficult for them to find work as they were confined to their rooms due to the restrictions imposed by the government. Most of the family members of these women depend on their income and they were in dire need of finding an alternate source of earnings.

Amina had enrolled herself in a beauty parlor training course, one of the vocational training courses offered by DMBS, a few months before the first lockdown in March 2020. Once the first lockdown was imposed, she went back to her family in Andheri, where she productively used the skills she acquired from the course. “Amina is one of the 42 women who underwent the beauty parlor training course from our Nashik office. They used to come to our office space and our trainers would train them for 3-4 hours a day,” added Akash.

In order to provide training to the members of various vulnerable communities, DMBS had partnered with Jan Shikshan Sansthan, an initiative by the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship.

“It is a great feeling knowing that due to the work done by DMBS, few women are no longer engaged in sex work and that they are doing really well in alternate jobs,” Akash shared fondly.

Through the partnership with #COVIDActionCollab, DMBS has been able to reach many individuals belonging to the vulnerable sections of society, enabling and equipping them to be resilient towards adversities. The members of DMBS further aim to orient these individuals towards building a stronger future to ensure that the communities #BounceForward swiftly.

*Name has been changed to protect the individual’s identity.
**Reference: https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CEDAW/Shared%20Documents/Ind/INT_CEDAW_NGO_Ind_17395_E.pdf
https://www.upr-info.org/sites/default/files/document/india/session_27_-_may_2017/js9_upr27_ind_e_main.pdf

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COVIDActionCollab is not merely an aggregation of partners, but is an aggregation of capacities, through which we have developed key high impact initiatives. We have drawn upon our one year’s experience at CAC and engagement with our large constituency of partners to put together a menu of initiatives for funders/investors to support which will save lives and livelihoods, and enable vulnerable communities to 'bounce forward’. Support these initiatives to build resilient communities