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Blog Post: I am a sex worker and I am a migrant…

By Amrita Sharma

My name is Rekha
I am a sex worker
And, I am a migrant
Migrant to the city of Ahmedabad
I come from West Bengal, where my poor parents live
I work, earn and send them money so that they can buy food and pay our debts
It will be 20 years for me in Ahmedabad
I’ll be turning 40 soon.

Last week, I went to the doctor again
She says, it’s the final stage
And that I would not live for long
A Stoic, she says this as if she has said the same thing to 10 more people in the day
I wonder if any of this is my fault.

I have been in the hospital for three weeks now
Abdul, my agent, has also stopped coming to visit me
They say, he is busy.
Everything is similar to what happened to Shobha.

Shobha, my friend,
She came with me from Bengal
She was five years older and we lived together
She got sick, and then Abdul had stopped taking interest in her business.
I can’t get clients for her, it’s dangerous, he said once to me.
Shobha died in the hospital alone
There was no one.

They tried to burn her body
Then someone said, she was a Muslim and we needed to bury her.
But, she had no papers
She was a migrant
She could not be buried in the city.
Abdul told me the NGO wallahs, who visit our chawl, tried hard to get her a decent burial
But they failed.
Her body was taken some 100 kms from the city where she was buried.

I’m glad I am not a Muslim,
They would not have to find a burial place for me.
My body can be burnt, when I die.

My name is Rekha
I am a sex worker
And, I am a migrant.

Our work at Aajeevika takes us to meet a variety of migrant streams. Last month, we visited an organization that works with sex workers in Ahmedabad. Most of the sex workers, we were told, are migrants to the city, coming from West Bengal and Bangladesh. Their work is not legal. Being migrants, they do not have access to any state benefits at the destination. They do not have any identity card, no voter card, no ration card, nothing. One story where a migrant sex worker could not be buried in the city because the NGO could not establish her identity was too much to bear. That served as the trigger for this blog entry.

[I am grateful to the team of Sakhijyot for sharing their experiences with us. May the passion that guides your work light up many more lives and ignite more minds.]

Photo-credit: Here

Author:

Amrita Sharma works with Aajeevika Bureau, a non-governmental, non-profit initiative for providing services, support and security to rural, seasonal migrant workers, based in Rajasthan, India. She leads the research and training mandate of the organization, working as the coordinator of Center for Migration and Labor Solutions (CMLS). In her academic career, she has published on the subject of agricultural demography, institutionalization of migration, and international remittance management. Amrita has a Master degree in Public Policy and Development Studies from ISS-Hague and CEU, Budapest and a post-graduate Diploma in Rural Management from IRMA, Anand, India.

***

For more stories, read Café Dissensus Everyday, the blog of Café Dissensus Magazine.

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