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Lockdown blues: sex workers of Calcutta counselled

The session was held online from the office of an NGO involved in the empowerment of women and child rights
Addressing the group was motivational trainer Soumitra Chatterjee whose organisation works with scientists, students and sportsmen.

Jhinuk Mazumdar   |   Calcutta   |   Published 14.04.20, 08:29 PM

A sex worker in her early 20s is stuck in the city while her two-year-old daughter is in South 24-Parganas with her grandmother.

The woman hasn’t been able to go home and meet her daughter for three weeks now.

Another woman in her 30s is worried how she would pay her room rent and other bills.

A group of sex workers in Kalighat on Monday voiced their anxieties during a counselling and motivational session and how the lockdown had impacted their livelihood and taken a toll on their mental health.

The session was held online from the office of New Light, an NGO involved in the empowerment of women and child rights, in Kalighat.

“It is a community that is becoming depressed… they need an outlet to talk about their anxieties and fears otherwise they will suffer in isolation and silence,” Urmi Basu, founder trustee of New Light, said.

Basu has been working with such women for more than two decades.

“When we have access to the digital world why not make it available to them. If they have mental issues, counselling is an important aspect.”

Similar sessions will be held once or twice a week.

“Many are going through phases of feeling low and depressed and we think we need to support them with counselling,' Mudar Patherya, trustee of NGO Kolkata Gives that put the initiative together, said.

Addressing the group was motivational trainer Soumitra Chatterjee whose organisation works with scientists, students and sportsmen.

“Initially, the women were shy but gradually they opened up. They are in a vulnerable state and if they feel someone is compassionately listening to them they will be encouraged to speak out. We will help them come out mentally tougher through the session.'

Chatterjee will design a module, which will include doing exercises and making lifestyle corrections.

Patherya said the next step was to make the women digitally independent so that they could go online by themselves and do banking transactions online.

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