23 September, 2020

They Haven’t Sold Their Soul

The Taaras coalition is changing ­women’s lives by giving voice to the most marginalised

Mirrors, Not Masks
There are 2,300 women under the Taaras umbrella in Tamil Nadu
Photograph by G.C. Shekhar
They Haven’t Sold Their Soul
outlookindia.com
2019-04-12T11:35:18+05:30

Kushi wants to be a corporator some day. The 37-year-old was a Class 10 dropout until two years ago—when her son was writing his SSLC board exams, she too cleared her papers, determined to pick up the thread from where she had left it. It’s her daily work among a marginalised community aspiring to a life of dignity that has built up her confidence to take on bigger responsibilities. She is a member of Taaras, a coalition of around 150 community organisations from 19 states that work among sex workers. Taaras has a combined membership of more than 1.5 lakh across the country. With 500 trained ­coordinators, the platform brings together community-based efforts to break the vicious cycle of poverty, violence, disease and discrimination that sex workers face.

Founded three years ago, Taaras has helped women like Kushi see the impact their collective voices can make on their lives. “Earlier, when we went to government offices or police stations on behalf of sex workers, people didn’t bother. Now they are willing to listen,” she says. There are...

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