News update
Andhra Pradesh Legislators and Counsel Members expressed solidarity and pledged
support to FSWs in the state
(APLFA members interface with FSW network members)
Andhra Pradesh Legislators Forum on HIV and AIDS (APLFA) expressed solidarity to the Female Sex Workers (FSW) on the eve of International Sex Workers Rights Day. The solidarity was expressed through :

Representation to CM and to concerned Ministries

Undertaking a visit to FSW CBO

The legislators and counsel members who participated in a interface meeting with FSWs assured them about extending the policy level support to addressed the issues pertinent to FSWs. APLFA in collaboration with SWECHA (CBO network) and APSACS had jointly organised the interface meeting, where in MLAs and MLCs attended visited Chaithanya Mahila Mandali (CMM) a FSW CBO located at Sitaphalmandi, Secunderabad.

The forum convener Dr. Sailajanath during the Assembly session submitted a representation to Dr. Rosaiah, the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh on behalf of forum members. The representation narrated the prominence of International Sex Workers Rights Day (March 3rd) and the problems associated with the FSWs in the state and urged the government’s intervention to support them.
The letter highlighted the vicious situations with which FSWs lead their life, social and economic factors and issues like, stigma, discrimination in legal and social services, harassment and filing of false cases against sex workers, housing for eligible houseless and package of services – ration, welfare services, support for HIV positive sex workers, Education support to children of sex workers (especially girl children) to prevent second generation entry into sex work, Legal support centers (using the state and district legal cell). Copies of the letter was handed over to Minister for Rural Development, Minister for Home, Minister for Civil Supplies, Minister for Higher Education, Minister for Secondary Education, Minister for Social Welfare, Minister for Health, Medical and Family Welfare, Minister for Law and Courts and Minister for Housing with a special request to accord priority to FSWs.

In spite of the busy schedules and on going Assembly and Counsel Sessions, the forum members undertook a visit to CMM. Around 60 FSWs associated with the CBO participated in the meeting.  Mr. P.C.Kasinath, State Coordinator, APLFA provided a overview and introduced the APLFA members to the community and requested to FSWs to express their concerns, views and needs.

Mrs. Jayamma, President of the CBO welcoming the Legislators and counsel members expressed that this interface is first of its kind in the state and perhaps in the country, where in large number of political leaders belonging to different political party identities came together to visit a FSW CBO to discuss  openly with the sex workers. She also expressed that the FSW community feels privileged that such a visit has happened on a prominent day of – International Sex Workers Rights Day.

The interaction between the FSWs and political leaders went on for almost for an hour. FSWs shared about the issues associated with their social life, trade and future of their children. The key issues included :
Harassment and false case filing
Requirement of houses
Ration cards
Voter cards
Education support for their children, especially girl children to stop them entry into sex work
Livelihood options
Dr. S. Sailajanath, MLA and Convener, Mrs. Christian Lazarus, MLA and Co-convener, Mr. K. Durgesh, MLC, Mr. K.Sudhkar MLA, Mr. K. Kannababu, MLA, Dr. P.Ravi,MLA, Dr. B. Chandravathi, MLA, Mr. Jalli Wilson, MLC, Mr. A. Amarnath Reddy, MLA, Mr. K. Janardhana Reddy, MLC and Mr. Y.D. Prakash, A.D. APSACS spoke on the occasion.

While speaking about the support to FSWs,Mr.K. Durgesh, expressed the need for exploring the options of revival of GOMS No 1 of 2002, which is related to support for women who are subjected to trafficking and look into the feasibility of extending the coverage of the GO to FSWs and their children. He also expressed the need for convergence  platform, where in all Government department heads, political leaders and FSW members come together to discuss the issues and finding option of livelihood support and other linkages for addressing the FSW needs. He said “By virtue of my NGO background and working experience with FSWs I am fully aware about your plight, needs and difficult situations. I assure you that, we all will sit together and discuss on the possible support”.
Mrs. Lazarus expressed that, “FSWs should maintain dignity, prep are for change and come forward of livelihood related skill development”. She also added “Change is the mantra” to over come difficult situations. She also said “I am closely associated in working with differently able children; I can understand your plight and the social situations”.

Mr. K. Sudhakar expressed his deep concern about the FSWs and their life style and assured the support of political sector in addressing the needs of FSWs through finding out the eligibility criteria. He called for unity among the FSWs and develop self-help groups, which enable them to draw government support. He said “By virtue of my work with rural based female sex workers, I am aware of the circumstances that trigger a woman to enter into sex work”. He also said, “By coming together as a self-help group you can reap the benefits of the welfare schemes of the state government. We will work towards addressing the disabling factors”.
Mr. Kannababu expressed the need for self-realisation of FSWs.  He appealed to the FSWs “I urge you to introspect about continuation in the trade and the hardships which you are undergoing as a result of being in this trade and think about you children future”. He also said, “it is our responsibility that our children do not become victims of our work”.

Dr. Chandravathi, expressed her assurance to uphold the dignity and respect of women in the society and appreciated Chatanya Mahila Mandali (CMM) for coming forward to work with women who are marginalized. She said, “I am the youngest MLA in the assembly and new to political sector, but as a medical professional I am aware of the problems associated with women, especially sex workers. I request you to beware of the health complications and understand the importance of maintaining good health”.
Dr. Ravi expressed his concern about the vulnerability of the FSW and acknowledged the plight of the women associated with sex work. He said “You are vulnerable to many health problems especially HIV and are subjected to stigma, discrimination and violation of rights. We all through the forum would discuss about ways for reducing the same”.

Dr. Sailajanath, expressed that there is need for further exploring the issues related to FSWs for policy level interventions. He expressed the need for more deliberation like this for meaning full action. He felt that FSWs should lead a dignified and respectable life. Dr. Sailajanath assured to explore the possibilities of interface and linkages with all concerned departments. He said “on behalf of APLFA I submitted a representation to Chief Minister and to other departments requesting needed intervention for the welfare of the FSWs”. He also said “We have challenge in identifying the strategy and via media to satisfy the law and addressing the harassment against sex workers”. Further he requested “the CBO can approach them with the list of eligible women who need ration cards and others support”. He asked the CMM president to classify the sex workers according to age and identify the requirements, which need political and policy level intervention. He assured the APLFA support in highlighting the issues and brining all concerned departments on a single platform to address the needs and assured regular interactions with FSW network members and APLFA.

Mr. Y. D. Prakash, Assistant Director, TIs, APSACS remarked that “today’s event is first of its kind. More interactions like this will help the community to combat their problems. I am sure that, the political leaders’ involvement in the state would result into policy level support and influence national level policies through NACO”.

The meeting concluded with vote of thanks by Mrs. Jayamma.
Donations to Chaithanya Mahila Mandali are Exempted form IT u/s 80G.
CMM Accepts foreigen contributions vide FCRA Reg. No. 010230753.