Rot Association of Meghalaya (RAM)

Telegram ID: @rotassociationofmeghalaya_RAM

Who do you work with?

RAM works by bringing together our sisters in distress i.e. women in sex work from different corners of all the 8 districts in Meghalaya. At RAM general meetings, members share the problems faced by them, and work together to prioritise and solve key issues. A member described how things had changed since RAM began in 2010: “Before RAM, if we had any issues, only MACS would address it. Now if we have any issue, all the RAM members help to resolve it. Earlier we had fear. Now we have confidence, we have strength.”

How are sex workers involved in your organisation?

Members of RAM are on a mission to change the perspective of the government who currently links sex work to trafficking. The role of each and every member is to support coordination and work together with sex workers or sisters in distress across the state of Meghalaya on sex worker issues, particularly sex worker rights.

Which of NSWP priority areas does your organisation work on?
Oppose the criminalisation and other legal oppression of sex work and support its recognition as work
Critique the trafficking paradigm that conflates representations of sex work, migration, and mobility
Advocate for universal access to health services, including primary health care, HIV and sexual and reproductive health services
Speak out about violence against sex workers, including violence from police, institutions, clients, and intimate partners, while challenging the myth that sex work is inherently gender-based violence
Oppose human rights abuses, including coercive programming, mandatory testing, raids and forced rehabilitation
Challenge stigma and discrimination against sex workers, their families and partners, and others involved in sex work
Advocate for the economic empowerment and social inclusion of sex workers as sex workers
What are the two main challenges that the sex workers you work with face

Financial instability and health problems are the two main challenges faced by members of RAM. These issues are compounded by stigma and discrimination from moral police NGOs and law enforcement authorities, as sex workers in Meghalaya are often reluctant to report crimes against them (such as theft, abuse, rape or murder) and are unable to access government schemes and services that would help them. Although sex work is technically legal in Meghalaya as well as the rest of India, several aspects of the work, such as soliciting, are criminalised, and female sex workers are still heavily stigmatised in society. This creates a culture of silence around sex work, where our members feel they cannot raise their issues for fear of discrimination or, at worst, further abuse.

Describe other areas of your work

Like the NSWP, RAM also aims to break the silence by creating a platform for women in sex work, where we can raise our voices and advocate for our rights as citizens of Meghalaya. The leaders in RAM are passionate about the movement, and have been making incredible efforts to help it succeed.