Support for Trans Laborers and Sex Workers
Samabhabona has been working for a while with trans sex workers, and working class individuals across West Bengal. Currently we are collaborating with University of Connecticut (regarding trans working class individuals across local railway lines). The connections we have made over the period before and during this project have helped us realize the predicament of individuals, a lot of whom are forced to live in secrecy. Their identities are constantly erased by threats of violence. Sexual violence is also common, they get extremely low wages and work for ten to twelve hours, six days a week. At the time they have no way of protesting against the management. So far we have managed to connect with over 100 workers; having information about at least 400 trans working class individuals who operate from these districts. Apart from this there are also many migrant labour workers and launda1 dancers who travel in and out of the state for seasonal work. The network of sex workers in the metropolis and the suburbs is a large number, around 1000 as par our estimates; but there are greater communities with no access to organisations operating within this line of work.
There is a diverse group of individuals from different backgrounds, class and caste who operate within these spaces. Apart from this trans sex workers have always felt left out of feminist spaces; they also feel neglected in organisations working for sex worker rights. Trans sex workers have no brothels of their own, they can’t stand in line in red light areas because the female sex workers compete and times object to their presence. They feel like their issues haven’t been prioritized enough. Police violence goes unchecked and there are little to no means of protest. The sex workers are unable to come together and unionize because of lack of support from existing organisations. Our founding members consist almost entirely of trans sex workers who have lived experience and connections that lay the foundation for this work.