Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee

Location

Kolkata
India
Contact email: 
sonagachi@sify.com
Who do you work with?: 
The Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC) is an organisation of sex workers and functions as an exclusive forum of female, male and transgender sex workers and their children. DMSC has 56 branches and a membership of 65,000 sex workers across West Bengal, India. DMSC demands recognition of sex work as legitimate work.
How are sex workers involved in your organisation?: 
The Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee is a community based organisation where all the members of the Executive Committee are sex workers. Every three years the general members of DMSC elect their repre4senatives and office bearer through secret ballot.
Which of NSWP priority areas does your organisation work on?: 
Oppose the criminalisation and other legal oppression of sex work and support its recognition as work
Critique the trafficking paradigm that conflates representations of sex work, migration, and mobility
Advocate for universal access to health services, including primary health care, HIV and sexual and reproductive health services
Speak out about violence against sex workers, including violence from police, institutions, clients, and intimate partners, while challenging the myth that sex work is inherently gender-based violence
Oppose human rights abuses, including coercive programming, mandatory testing, raids and forced rehabilitation
Challenge stigma and discrimination against sex workers, their families and partners, and others involved in sex work
Advocate for the economic empowerment and social inclusion of sex workers as sex workers
What are the two main challenges that the sex workers you work with face: 
Criminalisation of sex work and work environment and the unlawful practices of law enforcing is the major challenges in India. Police and administration do not necessarily act based on the code of the law but act more as a ‘moral guardian’ and often victimise sex workers. Stigma and decriminalisation attached to sex and sex workers is considered as the other major challenge.
Describe other areas of your work: 
DMSC carries out health intervention with special focus on HIV. In addition to that DMSC runs self-banking, education programmes for sex workers and their children and an anti-trafficking programme. This is possible through the establishment of a self-regulatory board following a private-public partnership model. DMSC also has its own cultural forum called Komol Gandhar.