In this episode of Ganatheya Dudimegagi, Lakshmi is in conversation with RJ Radha. They discuss the everyday violence that women in the sex industry suffer.
Lakshmi’s husband worked in the film industry, and was always very indifferent towards his family. So, Lakshmi was forced to take care of her two children alone, and made ends meet by selling papads. She was introduced to Swathi Manae through a friend and joined the organisation as a Jeevika. Her work involves distributing condoms to women who are involved in sex work and encourage these women to get their HIV tests done. She also speaks to them extensively about the services Swathi Manae offers and how they can benefit from them. In time, Lakshmi started sex work herself while also working as a Jeevika.
While still married, Lakshmi started developing an intimate relationship with her neighbour. In time, her boyfriend started harassing her and asking for money. She got in touch with Swathi Manae for help. The team called him and warned him to not disturb Lakshmi; soon after, he disappeared.
In this interview, Lakshmi also speaks of a 20-year-old young woman who had eloped with her boyfriend and come to Bangalore. She was three months pregnant when he ran away, leaving her alone in the hotel they had been staying at. “She didn’t know what to do, and was found crying on the streets. I spotted her and brought her to Swathi Manae. She requested help to abort the baby and then, stayed on with me. She also, ultimately, ended up in sex work as she couldn’t go back to her parents. Like this, many girls and women end up in sex work, and in sex work, many men refuse to pay after having sex with us. They often take sex workers to the outskirts of a city and abandon them in a remote place, without clothes and without any money. The partners of these women also routinely beat them up,” Lakshmi says. “Police officers also round us Jeevikas up to take to the station, thinking that we are sex workers as well. Only after we show them our ID cards do they let us go.”