Recently, I was part of the general elections of the sex worker CBOs in five districts in Karnataka. The experience showed me once again, just how much these communities have been able to come together, accept each other as 'us' as part of a family, and want to be there for each other. In one of the districts, the event was so festive as to resemble a family function, and the women used it as an opportunity to get back in touch with each other, and celebrate being together. The women told me how, in their journey with the CBO, they had seen each other, as women, and looked beyond religion, caste or geographical location, which usually determined most of their friends and companions. They were surprised at the way their interactions had so naturally and effortlessly transcended these barriers, and they visited homes of people, they never even would have met previously.
This was also a shining example of democracy at its best in the grassroots. This is the third year of existence for the CBOs, and the women have had time to assess capacities of their representatives. They were called to account for the achievements and lapses, and their votes reflected their levels of satisfaction. Yet, even more inspiring was the sight of a leader, who lost the election, but who was gracious to the end, fully involved in managing the event, and finally handing over to the new leader.