Mumbai's infamous red light area, ruled by brothel owners, pimps and of course sex workers, now boasts of a co-operative bank, which can help sex workers keep their money safe.
This is a welcome development for many of the sex workers who are unable to open bank accounts in other regular banks due to the non-availability of residence certificates and birth certificates. The bank, named as Sangini Women's Co-operative bank is a brain child of a few sex workers and is located in Kamathipura in the red light area of Mumbai.
For the 22,000 sex workers in Kamathipura, it's a dream come true. The savings in the bank will help them educate their children and build homes to live, instead of a life of bondage. Many of the sex workers have started fixed savings schemes at the bank as a fall back plan for rainy days.
The Sangini Co-operative Bank was instituted with the assistance of the Population Services International (PSI), an NGO based in Washington. The bank is presently operating in three rooms and has even opened a grocery store for sex workers offering items at a concessional rate.
The sex workers can also avail loan facilities from the bank to meet emergency expenses. The Kamathipura development is indeed a good example of measures taken for the upliftment of sex workers, who are driven to the profession due to abject poverty, or illegal trafficking.
Other states in India could take a leaf out of the Kamathipura initiative and assist the estimated 2 million sex workers in India to lead a life of dignity.