Sex-workers' group to prevent AIDS
Shabana Kaji, the general secretary of Vaishya Anaya Mukti Parishad (VAMP), was at India Habitat Centre in New Delhi to give her testimony at People's Panchayat on Resisting Stigma and Discrimination.
VAMP is a group of sex-workers based in Maharashtra and Karnataka which works for the rights of sex-workers and their children. Excerpts from an interview with Shabana Kaji:
How was VAMP started and what was the purpose behind its formation?
VAMP was started in 1997 with the collective initiative of the sex-workers of seven districts, two from North Karnataka and five from West Maharashtra. We started it with the help of another organisation called Sangram. Initially we all used to work for Sangram but later there was a realisation among the members that we should have our own organisation, with sex-workers in it.
What was the need to have a separate organisation?
We all felt that if sex-workers have their own organisation and take its responsibility, there would be more understanding of issues and better results. There is a feeling now that we as are working and we are involved with our cause. This is because we know the ground realities better than a person from outside. Also, this has resulted in more unity among us. In fact, the constitution of the organisation says that only a sex-worker can be its member.