Hundreds of sex workers walked a pride march on Saturday, 14th September 2019 in Mandya city in Southern Karnataka to celebrate International Sex Workers Pride Day- as declared by Global Network of Sex workers to commemorate the pride of sex workers and continue to advocate for workers’ rights for those practising sex work . Symbolically holding red umbrellas and placards reading ‘Sex Work is Work’, ‘My daughter goes to school- Sex Work pays for it’ and ‘I demand workers’ rights’ among many others, this silent march on the streets of Mandya is an expression of their aspiration to integrate into mainstream society. These marginalised street based sex workers have been fighting violence, stigma and discrimination.
Ashodaya Samithi recognises the need to strive for the upliftment of the sex worker community and create a social space whereby sex workers can exert their agency and claim what is theirs in mainstream society. Over the years, the sex workers of Mandya with the support of Ashodaya Samithi Mysore have collectivised to advocate for the rights of their community members and ensured that health services, social entitlements and protection from structural barriers such as stigma, discrimination and violence are addressed so that every member of the sex worker community can continue to practice sex work while being protected from such barriers. On this day of Sex worker Pride, the sex workers of Mandya are proud to come forward and launch their own organisation- Ashodaya Mandya. Ashodaya Mandya will be governed by a democratically elected board with representation from each of the sub populations (female, male and trans sex workers).