Karnataka Sex Workers union (KSWU) is a trade union of sexworkers (women, men and transgender) in Karnataka. Our members are primarily from Bangalore Urban, Bangalore Rural, Ramanagara and Dharwad districts. KSWU was established in May 2006 and is functioning formally from 18th July 2007. KSWU has applied for the registration under The Trade Unions Act in January 2008. KSWU is affiliated to New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), a national federation of independent trade unions in India.
KSWU strives to get sexwork recognised as dignified labour, campaigns for decriminalisation of sexwork and demands labour rights that are guaranteed to all other workers. KSWU defends the rights of sexworkers and resists violence, oppression and exploitation by the police, goondas, government agencies and others. KSWU advocate for fair working conditions and social entitlements including voting rights, health services, housing, access to public distribution system (ration card), savings-credit and loan facilities, retirement benefits, Provident Fund, Employees State Insurance, insurance, education for sexworkers children and full social security.
KSWU is an independent organisation of sexworkers governed democratically by its members. KSWU is free from the control of the powerful structural forces that control (through AIDS funding) the decisions of most sexworkers and their organisations in India - large funding agencies, UN agencies and governments. KSWU raises the collective voice of the sexworkers to fight against the violence, exploitation, stigma, discrimination and prejudice and negotiates with governments and various powerful institutions.
KSWU’s work is carried forward through voluntary work of its members, its leaders and it’s General Secretary, who is provided with a monthly honorarium. Some of our work includes:
- Advocating for voting rights for sexworkers and supporting sexworkers in getting their names enrolled in the electoral lists. This resulted in getting more than 400 sexworkers names included in the electoral lists.
- Fighting against the efforts of Indian government to amend Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act to penalise the clients of the sexworkers.
- Demanding government action against police and goondas involved in brutal attack on sexworkers and their supporters in Channapatna on 2nd June 2007 (while peacefully protesting police harassment of sexworkers). KSWU get the PUCL’s fact-finding report on this incident to Kannada and got the report published in English and Kannada.
- Conducted a study about the needs of sexworkers children (education, shelter, health and nutrition) in Bangalore Rural and Ramnagara districts and is taking steps to address the needs found through the study.
- Helping sexworkers in crisis situations, e.g. helped a sexworker when police illegally seized a large amount of cash and property by intervening in the crisis and getting the cash and property released.
- Conducting state executive committee meetings once a month and organising occasional meetings of the KSWU members in different towns and cities facilitating democratic decision making.
- Encouraging and supporting KSWU leaders who are coming out publicly as sexworkers in cities and towns to defend their rights.
- Building links and alliance with various trade unions and other progressive organisation.
Our activities are supported financially through members’ monthly membership fee, individual donations from sexworkers and others supporters. KSWU at present is able to support the honorarium of its General Secretary, state executive committee meetings and few other incidental expenses. KSWU doesn’t have enough resources for the following:
- Advocacy programs that involves large mobilisation or long-distance travel.
- Residential training programs for capacity building of the its members and leaders.
- Expenses for approaching courts if the union’s application for registration is rejected.
- Expansion of union activities out side the districts of Bangalore Urban, Bangalore Rural and Ramnagara and to scale up union’s work by paying honorarium to more people.
Hence we request you to join hands with us by supporting KSWU financially either through one time donation or fixed monthly donation. You can also support us by meeting specific expenses - state executive committee meetings, training programs, contribution towards honorarium of our staff.
Geetha (General Secretary)