Sahyog Maitri

So, it started with all heart, audience thought lots of drama is going to come out of this event, but the organisers and the mains of this event ‘Sayog Meytri’ knew at the end of the day, this event is going to melt everyone’s heart. Something exactly same happened, in fact, everyone out there in Raja Ram Mohan Rao Auditorium lost their control over their hearts, their feelings were mixed – happiness, gloomy, excitement, curious and what not. They all knew their hearts need to be settled, but they could not find a way.

What happened in the meanwhile that, none of them could control their eyes from tearing out? In the morning, they walked in with their own individual judgements about sex workers and transgenders whereas while walking out of the auditorium for the first time they felt need of humanity. Not only the audience, but the participants were also drawn to eachother, as they understood that they were treated same.

What make Pahal Welfare Society organise such a grand event which includes transgenders, cisgenders, sex workers, and almost everyone?

Talking about the underprivileged people in India, we talk only in terms of financial difference doing or discrimination, while socially discriminated people are also equally underprivileged. Transgenders and Sex workers have been isolated from the society, hence nobody wants to give them any kind of work, in fact they are not even considered as common. Every day, they live in a fear of being humiliated and getting arrested for one or the other reason. Arrested because whatever they do, however they earn and survive is illegal, what neither the law allows them to do nor the society accepts them for doing so. Other people sitting at their home make pre-judgements without even knowing the truth behind their actions. They have been considered as criminals, whereas these underprivileged people aren’t the criminals, they themselves are victims of circumstances created by us.

Whether we talk about sex workers or transgender, they face the same humiliation and ignorance, people find it hard to understand why they have turned into what they are. According to the surveys most of the prostitutes are single mothers, when they are not supported by the rest of their families, they had to step out and work in low budget sectors, most of them had to engage in sex work for better survival of their children. Sexual minorities including transgenders are also equally looked down upon as sex workers. Parents and society provide numerous reasons to them for doing so, bringing dishonour and embarrassment to the family hence either family kicked them off or they themselves run away from the family and joined Hijra communities which compel them to work in tolis, prostitution and begging.

We Indians face a lot of inferiority complexities when we step out of country, and we not only complain but also revolt against the social exclusion we face. When it comes to within our country we look down upon people based on their religion, caste, work and even cultures. Even the minorities do not unite together to talk about their discrimination. Several minorities feel themselves superior to other minorities and could never get what they deserve. While transgenders and sex workers have been equally discriminated from society since a long back, still one of them look down upon other and believes that they bring less dishonour to the society. Considering that both the categories share cold relation despite being treated same, Pahal Welfare Society decided to bring all of them including ordinary and privileged youth from several societies of Delhi on the same platform. The idea behind this social gathering event of sex workers, transgenders, and young boys & girls nearby was to know each other through interacting.

In 2016, more than 150 transgenders, 40 sex workers and more than half a century of college students gathered together to know each other, to build healthy and understanding relationships. The event started with dance performance by sex workers and transgenders. Many pf them gave dance performances, by dancing they represent their livelihoods. Few of them were fascinated towards music, they enjoyed by playing their favourite songs and singing along with them. They talked about how they long for love, affection, acceptance and respect. All they wanted to see in other’s eyes respect for themselves.

As the maximum part of population still looks down upon transgenders and sex workers, either because of their work or how they choose to identify themselves. Sex work, begging and toli bhadhai aren’t a reputable job. Interaction with a sex worker made me think a lot about all of them, read what she has to say:

“Sex work or prostitution is a profession has been carried forward for a long time, its not something we have started. Kings and Dukes used to come and play with women’s bodies, however they wanted. When they were done with their bodily pleasure, they used to through money on those women’s faces. Women at that time, kept quiet as they needed money to provide a better survival to their children, so what happens in todays time. The idea of looking down upon our work comes from one’s mind. People think sex work is a kind of profession driven only by physical pressure. While in most of cases, it is determined by financially and psychologically concerned. Our world is very dim and unsafe, we don’t step into this profession by our choice neither we get to exercise our own will even if we are old in this profession. Men come here to show domination, to get over their anxiety, many of them are psychopaths, they come over again seeking one woman. Which becomes very problematic for us, as the body is for sale, heart isn’t.”

Somewhere, transgenders suffer the same thing, live in the same dark world parallel to sex worker’s livelihood. Transgenders are driven to this dark world by the isolation which they face form society, friends and even family. Sayog Meytri was a platform for everyone, everyone from every sector, they all get to interact with each other. By telling stories, dancing, singing and narrating their lives full of struggle they all get to know how connected they are. It was not only a successful event, but it proved as a great step towards their empowerment.

Due to some or the other reasons, they are drawn to this dark world, but their living is as miserable as sex workers. They are allied with fleeing away from home at very early age, not getting the right direction, they end up indulging themselves in sex work. Resolving sexual victimization and child prostitution can be start with why they run away from their first home at this early age. Sensitization is not the only solution, but everything starts from this. Interacting with lots of people altogether helped all of them a lot. Everyone at Raja Ram Mohan Rao Auditorium not only understood, but also felt things deeply, something which is not going to get out from their minds and hearts for ages.

One of the transgenders who attended and participated the event ‘Sayog Meytri’ has something to say, “We both the transgenders and the sex worker used to think same for eachother. We both used to think that we are in the other side of the table, but we were in the same side and isolated from the society. Whatever we had to go through is because of our identity crisis, while they have never had to go through all this, so we used to consider themselves their own culprit. Through the event ‘Sayog Meytri’, we get to know that we both are victims. We both had to suffer a lot. This dark life has not been chosen by us, nor we deserve it. We are still underprivileged, we don’t know if we could do anything for them, but we won’t look down upon them. In fact, both the community can work together towards our environment.”

At the end Ms Sarita Shukla has only one think to say with all heart, “Sayog means collaboration and Meytri means friends. Our main agenda was to build affection in people’s hearts for eachother and give them the reason to accept them as their friend. Our motive to organise this huge event was to introduce the people who are in strained circumstances with the privileged people in our society, as well as to tell the people categories of disadvantaged sections of our societies that they aren’t different, they belong to same and they all deserve the same respect and acceptance as others.”