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Durbar: An effort to legalize the untalked trade of sex in India

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Picture credit: shahidulnews.com

By Arnab Mitra

Durbar (Durbar Mahila Samanwaya committee) is one of the largest NGOs in India that delve into the issue of sex workers and their well-being. The organization kicked off as a help group essentially concentrating on the health issues of the sex workers. However, as time passed, Samarajit Jana, the man behind the organization, broadened its horizon, taking over the responsibility of looking into their security which often gets wavered owing to the increasing number of assaults against them.

Picture credit: thequint.com
Picture credit: thequint.com

The organization embarked on its journey on 12th of July 1995 with 12 sex workers as its active participants. Now, Durbar has more than 80,000 members all over West Bengal and has its own co-operative bank, schools, cultural organizations and sports academies for the sex workers.

NewsGram spoke to the director and founder of the organization Dr. Smarajit Jana, the Secretary Bharati Dey and some sex workers to get a detailed understanding of the way Durbar functions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lENkox7rs1s

Arnab Mitra: How did the idea of Durbar come into your mind?

Smarajit Jana: Durbar is a Persian word which means ‘the noble court of a ruler’. For me, this is a noble profession as these women work for survival. But they are still deprived of the societal acceptance which is why I formed Durbar to fight for their cause.

Arnab Mitra: It has turned out to be one of the largest NGOs in India. How did this happen?

Smarajit Jana: It’s because of the help of some concerned citizens and sex workers of Sonagachi. The sex workers for their own sake gradually became a part of Durbar and we were able to keep a check on the different crimes against them.

Durbar has its own hostel in Baruipur that has been built for the children of the sex workers. Over here, we train the children and get them enrolled in different schools. We have our own sports academy and in 2014, 16-year-old Rajib Roy got a chance to play with the premier English football club, Manchester United.

We have our exclusive cultural institutions named Kamal Gandhar, where we let the sex workers and their children participate in varied activities ranging from music to drama. We have our own co-operative banks and recently, the state government has congratulated us for this initiative. We not only focus on sex workers, but also on the deprived class at large.

Recently, we have opened one of our units in Purulia district to help the poor people in this area. In this way, we are gradually expanding. Now, our main focus is to legalize this trade.

Arnab Mitra: In India, prostitution is still illegal. What steps have you taken to legalize it?

Picture credit: deccanchronicle.com
Picture credit: deccanchronicle.com

Samrajit Jana: We have a plan to discuss this matter with the ministry in Delhi after the monsoon session. We already had a talk with some of the ministers and they have assured us that they will look into the matter.

Arnab Mitra: Do you think that the sex workers will gradually get a place in the society?

Samrajit Jana: I can say that people’s views have changed and I congratulate the media, different organizations, and above all the concerned citizens. Because it is due to them that today Sonagachi and other red light areas are no longer abandoned places.

Arnab Mitra: Trafficking is quite common in the village areas of India. Are there any such victims in Sonagachi?

Bharati Dey: There is no such issue of trafficking here. Every new girl in this trade has to appear before the board and it’s mandatory to submit an x-ray report through which we detect her age and on the basis of the report we issue the Durbar employment card.

Arnab Mitra: According to reports, many customers want to have sex without condoms. How do you make condoms mandatory for the customers?

6d8f53584acc9a530f3e011696d99a2cBharati Dey: We campaign round-the-clock so that customers can understand the benefits of using condoms. Even we also provide free condoms from our kiosk for the poor people. But at the end of the day, it all depends on the understanding between the customer and the sex worker.

The sex workers said that after Durbar came into play, lots of things have improved; people and the authorities don’t dare to torture them. They are sending their children to schools, they have their own banks, medical units, cultural organizations and these people are getting a taste of fresh air, and life is not a prison for them anymore.

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3 Reasons why you Should Intern With an NGO

Here are some reasons that will inspire you to intern with NGO

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Know about the top reasons on why a student should intern with an NGO. Pixabay

Paras Arora, a student of Hindu College, had his own views about the Indian education system, its limitations, and the kind of reforms that should be made. One day, he came across a notification about a volunteering internship which entailed teaching kids of government-run or low-income private schools. He realised that this was his moment to finally do something in order to bring a change in the Indian education system. So, without any second thoughts, he immediately applied to the programme and was finally selected for the internship after an extensive hiring procedure. Before starting the internship, he was given an orientation regarding his work responsibilities and how to fulfil them. It was a month-long internship and the work was challenging as he had to single-handedly manage a class of 90 students.

On his very first day at school, he observed that the students there were excited and curious to learn and explore. Paras taught them daily lessons with interactive activities and during one such activity only, the students had to create a flag of their own imaginary countries and one of them created his flag in the shape of a loudspeaker emphasising on the freedom of expression of the citizens. It was then that Paras realised how much he himself was learning while he was imparting education to those kids. By the end of the internship, he learned about the various challenges faced by our education system and the urgency to bring reforms to it. Apart from the enriching experience, Paras ended up with a feeling of accomplishment as he had made a small contribution for the improvement of the education system and therefore, indirectly for the betterment of the society as a whole.

NGO
An NGO internship could be your chance to make new friends and get inspired by your fellow volunteers. Pixabay

Over the last few years, internships have become extremely popular amongst students as they have learnt about the importance of hands-on learning and the invaluable work experience internships bring on their resume. Recently, with increased awareness among students, a new trend has been observed in the types of internships students are pursuing. A huge number of students are opting for volunteering and NGO internships owing to the opportunity they get to contribute for the betterment of the society and skill-building opportunities in NGOs.

Here are the 3 major reasons why a student should pursue an internship with an NGO – 

  • Character development: Volunteering internships allow you to work closely on important societal issues and let you contribute to the society. During volunteering, you get to work and interact with people coming from different backgrounds working for various social causes. An NGO internship could be your chance to make new friends and get inspired by your fellow volunteers. You could even discover yourself while working with an NGO for the betterment of the society and this could play a significant role in building your character as you inculcate in yourself, eminent qualities like empathy, humility, patience, and optimism.

    NGO
    here’s another trend in NGO internships called skill-based volunteering which allows you to use your existing skills to give your contribution to the society. Wikimedia Commons
  • A valuable addition to your resume: You can kill two birds with one stone by doing an internship with an NGO. You’ll ask, how? Well, NGO internships not only add the value of work experience to your resume but also speak volumes about your ability to work in a real-time environment as well as about your character. Additionally, having a volunteering work experience on your resume can make your application stand out during your higher education admission processes as well as while you are applying for your next internship endeavour or your dream job in future.

  • Upgrades your skill-set: Apart from learning the importance of teamwork and leadership while working on a variety of works ranging from teaching to event management and conducting surveys, volunteering offers you with abundant opportunities to learn and develop both soft and technical skills. There’s another trend in NGO internships called skill-based volunteering which allows you to use your existing skills to give your contribution to the society. This way, even your programming, designing, writing or management skills could help you make a meaningful contribution for the society.

Also Read- Google and Apple Take Action Against Mischievous Coronavirus App

Courtesy: Sarvesh Agrawal is the founder and CEO of Internshala, an internship and training platform (internshala.com