Sex workers in Chennai are learning karate to protect themselves from violent customers.
Clad in white, around 75 masked sex workers are undergoing training in self-defense techniques.
Operating in the murky world of pimps and violent customers, these sex workers are a marginalized lot.
Deprived of legal protection, they often have to put up with violence and harassment at the hands of their customers.
By equipping themselves with karate skills, they can save themselves from being assaulted by their violent customers and pimps.
"This is the first time in the country where the skill of karate is being used to protect the rights of female sex workers in Tamil Nadu. I strongly believe this will take the message across country, across the world where the clients of sex workers must stop violence against female sex workers," said Hariharan, organizer of the self-defense training camp.
The training has helped these sex workers in handling any untoward situation that may arise during the course of their trade.
"We are about 75 sex workers taking this karate training because we are facing lot of problems in our day-to-day life. We have to protect ourselves by learning karate. Karate also increases our physical strength through the means of the various exercises that we do here.
Through karate, we can protect ourselves and also save others," said Martha, a sex worker.
Although prostitution is illegal in India, it is a thriving underground industry and voluntary groups estimate that there are about two million women sex workers in the country.