statesman news service
Kolkata, 31 October
Making candles during the festive season has become the hope for women in the flesh trade as they have found another way of making themselves self reliant.
A 56-year-old sex worker recounted that she was only 11 when she was pushed in the flesh trade. She switched to candle making as an alternate source of livelihood. While pouring wax in a mud mould, she said: “At this age how will I earn my livelihood? Due to the social stigma attached to the flesh trade no one will accept me. Candle making is my only option.”
Under the umbrella of NGO Aapne Aap, a women&’s organisation, the sex workers took to candle making. Around 100 women Self Help Groups (SHG) with 10 to 20 members each have been introduced to several different livelihood opportunities like making paper bags, jute bags and wax candles.
As these livelihood options are low paying, the challenge for the NGO is to convince the sex workers to dedicate themselves fully to these jobs. “As the work is only seasonal, the amount that I earn is not enough for my survival. I earn more as a sex worker,” said a sex worker residing at Munshiganj area at Kidderpore.
“More sex workers like me want to get out from the flesh trade once we get a fixed source of income,” she added.
The state coordinator of the NGO, Mr Anupam Das, said: “Due to less work force we are unable to take big contracts and stick to only seasonal selling. We are trying to involve more women from flesh trade and women residing in red light areas. It is tough to convince them to take up candle making as a profession as returns are low. We also face fund crunch and the state government has done nothing about it.”
In order to increase sales and productivity, the NGO is trying to provide them with formal training for candle making. The candles made by them are available at hotel Kelinworth. Utilising the opportunities, the women belonging to the SHGs are happy, being self-employed.