In any point in history and in any place in the world, sex work exists in both legal and illegal forms. While many members of Indian society consider it immoral and degrading to women, Aatmvishwas argues that sex work is essentially just work. We should strive for a society in which sex work is accepted and regulated and in which sex workers are protected and granted the same rights as any other labourer.

Legalisation of prostitution would provide sex workers with a reliable framework of laws and regulations instead of living in fear for prosecution, police harassment and extortion. Sex workers should have the right to unionize and should be able to choose whether they work on their own, in groups or with managers. In addition to this, forced prostitution and sex trafficking needs to be eliminated.

Aatmvishwas (“self-confidence” in Hindi) was started by former sex workers for current sex workers in Bhiwandi (India). Led by social activist and former transgender sex worker Manoj Jani, social worker and male sex worker Arif Khan and peer educator and former female sex worker Rani Khan, Aatmvishwas aims to bring dignity, safety and security to their community members and improve their self-confidence.

Aatmvishwas strives to empower Bhiwandi’s sex workers by providing skill development training, focussing on art, craft and stitching, outreach work, advocacy, environmental programs, nutrition campaigns and emotional and psychological support.