India’s Youth Are Breaking The Forced Sex Trade Cycle- Here’s How
India is home to over 900,000 sex workers, with rampant sex trafficking of minors. The laws that aim to prevent trafficking and sex work do little to protect sex workers and have severe repercussions on their children. Many are barred from going to school because of their mother’s profession, and the rest typically drop out because of discrimination. Without the life skills and education, boys tend to get into drugs and petty crime, and girls often join the sex-trade to earn a living.
It is in this context that Ashoka Fellow Paramita Banerjee started working with sex workers and their families in the 1980s. She founded Discovering Inner Knowledge & Sexual Health Awareness (DIKSHA) starting with a group of 16 adolescents in Kolkata’s Kalighat red-light district who came together to conduct co-ed sexual and reproductive health workshops. In the forty years since, DIKSHA has gone on to build a national model for breaking the cycle of intergenerational sex trade, with youth at the helm. Ashoka’s Meghana Parik spoke to Paramita Banerjee.