ASHODAYA SAMITHI

Location

Mysore
India
Contact email: 
ashodayasamithi@yahoo.co.in
Who do you work with?: 
We are a sex workers' organization comprising of female, male and transgender sex workers across six districts of Karnataka, India with membership of over 8000 sex workers. Currently we are also the Secretariat of the All India Network of Sex workers. We work with all key stakeholders like the police, media, healthcare providers etc., to address violation of human rights of sex workers and advocate strongly for decriminalization of sex work.
How are sex workers involved in your organisation?: 
Being a sex workers' organization there is a constant community engagement and involvement in all activities undetrtaken by us. There is a high sense of ownership dispalyed by the community with constant participation towards community advancement. Decisions are taken through a democratic consultative process. In all Ashodaya is for, of and by the community of sex workers.
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: 
Recognition and social acceptance of sex work as work is one of the main challenges sex workers face. Constant interaction with society and using media to get community voices heard is a way through which we are attempting to address. The second challenge is to advocate at national level to decriminalize sex work, which would bring about a stop to violence and violations of human rights of sex workers.
Describe other areas of your work: 
Research on issues related to sex workers and bringing innovative methods to address them; Social developmental activities, social enterprenuership and Banking, working with other marginalized communities such as domestic workers, entertainment workers, Agricultural labourers, human rights groups etc., building capacities of sex workers to take better control of their lives. Advocacy with policy makers to demand for inclusion of sex workers in government schemes such as pension benefit etc.,