Sex workers in India lead a very different lifestyle as compared to their European or American counterparts. Vast differences in cultural, demographical and social perspectives have still kept them aloof from the real world. The damp and dark alleys of their residence are devoid of the sunlight of education. They happen to be residents of a completely separate world which is separated by light years from the mainstream society.
To absolve this crisis, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has taken a pious initiative in Ahmedabad to educate the sex workers. Correspondingly, they brought a small group of sex workers consisting of 13 members to their campus on Ahmedabad’s SG Road on 4th of July. These sex workers happened to belong to the infamous village Wadia in Tharad division of Banaskantha District in Gujarat.
The sex workers were left wide eyed at the sight of buzzing activities and literary curriculum and materials in the campus. It was indeed a rare sight for them as they had little or almost no contact with the outside world. The sight and experience of being inside such a large and advanced educational campus was a completely new flavour added to their array of experiences they had had in their lifetime.
When the group was assured of being given total privacy and secrecy to their origins, they felt relaxed enough to explore the entire campus and its associated activities with glee. They witnessed it with their own eyes how life actually is in such an environment which was fortunately liked and applauded by the entire lot of sex workers present there.
The sex workers responded back to IGNOU’s benevolent gesture by assuring their educators of opening a brand new chapter in their life and savour this opportunity at all costs. The pleased university officials distributed study materials among the sex workers and later held a counselling session for them as well. The university’s new students also got a special coordinator who will supervise their progress and assist them in achieving their goals.
“They do not even know the National Anthem of India which really took us by surprise. Further enquiries made it clear that they are hardly in touch with the outside world and hence are oblivious to the worldly events that are happening around them. They even have hardly any knowledge about the national leaders of the nation or even the state leaders too,” expressed an IGNOU official with utter disbelief in his eyes.
The regional director of IGNOU, Dr. Sujit Ghosh has said that they are actually aiming to lead the sex workers back into the society’s mainstream through education because this is the place where all humans must belong. “IGNOU’s experimental educational projects have been a roaring success among the jailed inmates in the state. The results have been good previously and we hope to achieve the same this time also,” he said.
The sex workers have largely opted for preparatory Bachelor’s programme and Certificate courses in Health and Nutrition. However, the officials are glad enough that their students, who vary greatly in age ranging from 17 year old teenager to 63 year old septuagenarian, are very sincere and attentive students who are eager to learn and change their life’s course.