Prostitution in India is unregulated. And in many scenarios considered illegal. Which is why sex workers do not have an audience for their woes. Regarded as “immoral” by a society with a skewed moral compass, they are most often denied basic human decency. Jayamma grew up an orphan. After a tough adolescence and teenage, she finally met a man she loved and married. This man, over the course of time, started succumbing to alcoholism and forcibly sold Jayamma to a broker for sex work. Kidnapped, repeatedly raped, beaten, sold, bought, wrongfully confined and harassed both mentally and physically, Jayamma decided to take up the cause of women in the same situation she was in.
With the help of Mr Jaya Singh Thomas, an NGO executive from the “IRDS” in Hyderabad, Jayamma began to slowly go about meeting these women, speaking to them and collecting their stories. Many were sold by their own husbands or forced into prostitution by unscrupulous pimps. Many had been promised a job in the city but abducted soon after. Discussing the impact of domestic violence, she was still hesitant to reveal her identity. However, on 1st December 2001 (World Aids Day), Jayamma and around 300 women took out a rally, with a banner that ready. “Chaithanya Mahila Mandali”, an initiative for the betterment of the life of sex workers and their children in Hyderabad.
The Chaithanya Mandali went from station to station and assured the sex workers that they are looking to uplift them, and are non-judgemental, willing to help any woman who wishes to opt out of the system. The children of sex workers who Jayamma had met in 1998 had turned to or were forcibly entered into full-blown prostitution by 2004 or 2005.
The initiative that started in Hyderabad in 2010 with ten children, today has 56 children living with their mothers. Thanks to the Chaithanya Mahila Mandali, these sex-workers can now try for other jobs. The mandal not only rehabilitates the sex worker and her child, but also carries out follow-ups to check whether the child is safe. The Chaithanya Mahila Mandali today boasts of a variety of programs, working in urban slums and rural areas, and holding crucial workshops highlighting the evils of trafficking. Through this initiative, more than 5000 women and children are being supported. Jaya maintains that it all boils down to the next generation, the children, who have to be protected from pimps. The Chaithanya Mahila Mandali also works closely with, the government schools and authorities, to keep an eye on human trafficking.
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