Mumbai-based sex workers collective bags UN award

June 6th, 2008 - 5:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, June 6 (IANS) Mumbai-based organization Sanghamitra, working with female sex workers in the city’s red light area of Kamathipura, has bagged the prestigious UN Red Ribbon Award 2008. Presented every two years at the International AIDS Conference by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the award seeks to recognise community initiatives that help in reducing the spread and impact of AIDS.

The award, given to only 25 from a pool of over 560 organisations, will be presented during the UN general assembly special session for HIV/AIDS, scheduled June 11.

Sanghamitra was formed in 2005 with support from Population Services International (PSI) and has been working in Mumbai with over 6,500 female sex workers, their husbands as well as clients.

“The prime aim was to provide sex workers with a platform for expressing their angst, dissent, anger - both independently as well as collectively,” said Shilpa Merchant, head of PSI.

“The main goal of Sanghamitra was to bring about a change within as well as in society at large. The women hoped to alleviate daily oppression and stigmatisation and the collective has helped them to quite an extent to fight the exploitative power structures,” she added.

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