Right from the horse's mouth. That's what UNDP's Me by Me is all about. Sex workers shall tell their own stories through pictorial documentation of their moment-to-moment struggle for life and minute-to-minute battle against indignity, rejection and discrimination.
Earlier it was always someone else who narrated her stories to others. But, now she would be doing it for herself to the bare details of her hardships, agonies and pains to stay alive.
United Nations Development Programme - Trafficking and HIV AIDS project in coordination with Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society is implementing Me by Me project to create capacity building of CSEs. In this project, a total of 400 CSEs (male and female) and their children from five states would be trained in pictorial documentation.
The second phase of this photography workshop has been started in Lucknow on Wednesday under which around 25 CSEs are being trained. Besides training in photography, the participants were taken to studios on Thursday where they had first hand experience of film making and editing. An exhibition of the photographs taken by the CSEs accompanied by felicitation for the participants has also been planned on Saturday in town.
The coordinator of this programme said that the reality of CSEs was often documented from the perspective of project planners and implementers. They are yet to move beyond the box of being recipients of 'welfare schemes' and 'health education'. They are also relentlessly part of debates about the 'rightness' of their existence. In all this, their realities often get muddied in theories and moral discourses.
Under this, 400 sex workers and their children from different sites across 5 states are being trained to use photography as an instrument for advocacy. The pictures they would take will be used for advocacy by themselves and by other interested community groups.
The sites selected for documentation have been less documented as compared to the more 'popular' Sonagachi or Kamatipura sites. These sites would be from Orissa, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. In Uttar Pradesh, first phase of this training has been completed in Kanpur and the third and the last training would be held in Varanasi, added the coordinator.