Emergency funds raised by sex workers themselves helps in consistent condom use and reduction in vulnerability

The sex workers in Periyackulam district, Tamil Nadu say "Sex without condoms: those days are gone!". 8 years ago it was observed that though women in sex work were aware about the use of condoms to prevent STIs and HIV they were exposed to infections. When the Siaap, team discussed in detail certain facts emerged such as emergencies in the family, ill health, debts and arrest by police caused financial crisis. In order to solve the crisis they had to raise more money so they gave-in to demands of clients to have sex without condoms for more money. Male clients perceived that use of condoms during sex reduces pleasure. The local money lenders exploited their needs. These factors made the women more vulnerable to the HIV and other infections.

The sex workers in a discussion with the Siaap team, planned to start a mutual financial support services (thrift and credit societies), where the women deposited money and received loans. In the initial phase loans were taken for very basic needs such as buying groceries, medicines. They gradually developed into a strong organisation, they began to trust that their financial institution. In the next two years this led to increase in ability to manage financial crisis. They successfully eliminated the exploitation of money lenders. The women became more confident to say no to clients who demanded sex without condoms even in the event of financial crisis because now, they had the support of their mutual financial institutions. They went further to reduced the number of clients per day. These changes in their personal and professional life reduced their vulnerability to HIV.

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Comment by Laurence Gilliot on February 15, 2009 at 9:06pm

Please invite the members of the women's group to join on Ning. Would be great to hear them share their own story and more :-)

Comment by M.L. Prabakar on February 14, 2009 at 8:22pm
Thank you Marlou, Gaston, Laurence and Rituu. I am so gifted I had this Aids competence platform to share about this group of women who I had admired a lot. I am also glad to have people like you who go beyond all barriers to appreciate, encourage and trust in the human capacity to respond. I will share all your appreciation with them when I meet them. They will be eager to share a lot more stories and become more and more competent to acheive greater heights.

Indu I am so glad to see you on Ning. My warm welcome to you. I hope more and more facilitators from Siaap join this group soon.


Comment by Indumathi Ravi Shankar on February 14, 2009 at 10:30am
Great posting Prabakar. You & me have shared these insights many times in the past. I am happy that you are sharing this with a larger audience.
Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on February 13, 2009 at 5:29pm
Dear Prabakar,

Great story! I remember you sharing it with JL and me when were on a support visit to Nagercoil.

Hope to hear more from you. Best of luck for your research project.


Comment by Laurence Gilliot on February 13, 2009 at 8:16am
Hi Prabakar,

Thanks a lot for sharing your story! I remember that you also explained the role you played in this story... As facilitators we can stimulate groups like this one, to take ownership of their own situation and to take action...
This is what you did brilliantly with this group!

I'm looking forward to see the video of you explaining this story :-) Soon on Ning!

Comment by Gaston on February 13, 2009 at 7:43am
Thanks for this story Prabakar. I remember you telling the whole story including how these women now are so strongly organized that other women (also non sex workers) want to set up similar groups and they ask for support. Horizontal transfer is thus happening as well. Impressive.
Comment by Marlou on February 13, 2009 at 6:58am
A great story Prabakar (Marlou :)! It demonstrates how these women become strong through their own actions - one step further on their way to AIDS Competence - and a level higher on the practice of addressing vulnerabilities. SIAAP did a great job in facilitating that change process. Sangare, coach from Mali, also told a story about sex workers in a village who are now helping eachother out. If one of them has a client who insists on sex without a condom, the sex worker will start screaming (they are all in the same building) and her colleagues would come in and chase the man out. Another local solution ...
Thanks for sharing! Marlou


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