Table of Contents

Editorial Articles Decriminalization of Sex Workers Volunteering Engineering Support by EngineerAid Campaigns RTI Meal a Month Organizational Shuffle at AID Delhi Project Updates Timarpur AID Gurgaon Nai Disha Khoj Prayas Volunteer Profiles Manish Agrawal 1 1 3 3 3 4 5 5 6 6 6 7 8

Decriminalization of Sex Workers
In this piece, I propose to give perspectives of sex workers about their trade. I will discuss the rights of sex workers as working citizens and the issue of decriminalization. Prostitutes are generally regarded as a social category, as persons who do not adhere to sexual and other behavioral norms; pitied or despised, they are excluded from mainstream society, and their lowly and marginal position is similar to that of a low caste or minority ethnic group. Due to this outcast status, they are denied whatever international, national, or customary protection from abuse is available to others as citizens, women, or workers. As a result of this social exclusion, prostitutes are vulnerable to exploitation. They are ostracized and are treated very differently. Prostitution is known as the oldest profession in the world for a reason - it is because it continues to exist, whether the law prohibits it or not. It is because the trade is deemed illegal, ignored, and made a crime, that it has become deeply associated with organized crime. By giving sex workers space, recognizing their rights, and affording them protection, this association can be broken. Further, because of the social status of sex workers, often their children etc. who are dependent on them are also left behind in terms of education and opportunities available to them for the betterment of their lives. For all sex workers, irrespective of whether they are forced into the profession, it is important that sex work be recognized and given importance as any other form of labor in society. We must recognize that sex workers are, in fact, 'working'. Sex work is the chosen field of work of some people, and the right to work and livelihood being fundamental rights under Articles 19 and 21 can only be subject to reasonable restrictions. The International Labor Organization too accepts that sex workers must be treated as laborers in the unorganized sector of the economy. They contribute to the national economy like all others, and must be afforded the same facilities. All efforts must be made by the State to ensure that sex

Aug 15, 1947 – India asserts its freedom from British Rule. Aug 15, 2006 – India (yet again) on the verge of asserting freedom from clutches of corrupt babus. With government’s plans to shelve the amendments in RTI Act, it was a victory of sorts for the Indian citizens who have always dreamed of a corruption-free India. It may be a small victory but is a significant one. The issue may resurface after a while (though we hope not) but this victory gives us the confidence and the energy to tackle it effectively. It is yet another example of how a few informed citizens could make a big difference, if they choose to. Isn’t that the crux of volunteering too? This month saw a big re-shuffle at AID Delhi with new coordinators springing into action. The aim is to streamline our activities and work more actively towards building a progressive India. Stay tuned for our upcoming Operations Review next month – A mustattend for all. Contributed By: Riputapan

workers are not subjected to abusive living and working conditions and are given the status of ordinary workers. They can then be taxed etc., and can ask for rights,unionize, and generally be in a better position to fight for themselves against the exploitation and danger from clients etc. present in the trade. While presently those forced into sex work because of economic circumstances are equally victims, they need not be considered so if sex workers are given respect as laborers. Once they are recognized as workers, they would be able to get themselves registered as self employed persons and avail of welfare and medical benefits of all labor schemes. Hopefully, such steps by the state would also pave the way for greater social acceptability of sex workers, which in turn, would ensure that children of sex workers are not turned away from school. Sex workers can be given their due status as workers only if prostitution is fully decriminalized. Decriminalization means the removal of laws against prostitution, especially from the purview of criminal law. In India, this would mean major amendments to the trafficking law, and repeal of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. To punish sex workers as criminals, which the law presently does is absurd simply because of the fact that no victims of the crime can be discerned. Instead, the law must provide for adequate rehabilitation of sex workers if they wish to leave the trade, rather than punishing them. Excepting situations of exploitation and public nuisance, sex workers must be allowed to carry on their work without interference. There are several advantages in decriminalizing prostitution. Firstly, since it will no longer need to be regulated, the resources wasted in uselessly arresting sex workers could be more effectively utilized in preventing traffic and exploitation. Secondly, the present harassment and exploitation of sex workers by the police and others would cease, as the police would no longer have the power to interfere and extort money and sexual favors from sex workers. Instead, it would be under an obligation to protect the sex workers if molested and harassed by others. Thirdly, it may help in breaking the link between sex work and other organized crime. Once it is decriminalized, it would be easier to monitor the workers for health concerns. It might also encourage the sex workers to be more conscious of their health and go for checks etc. fearlessly. One of the components of decriminalization, which is related to sex work being dignified labor, is

recognizing rights of sex workers which they should be able to enforce. These include the right to safe conditions of work; the right to refuse service on grounds of safety, health and hygiene; and the right to claim damages for violation of their rights. Although all people have the right to equality, sex workers need to be specially protected from discrimination in the form of denial of health care, custody of children etc. Since sex workers are in the high risk group as far as the HIV/AIDS epidemic is concerned, knee jerk reactions from the state may also tend to proscribe their rights, and this must be guarded against. With spread of information and voluntary checks, the health of sex workers and their clients can be maintained. For this too, it is imperative that they have access to hospitals, condoms etc., and have the right to refuse sex without a condom. Some argue that mere decriminalization of sex work is inadequate, and that prostitution must be legalized. The difference between the two is that if the trade is legalized, the state would exercise greater control and impose restrictions such as licenses or specific areas where the trade can be practiced etc. While it may be a better option if enforced efficiently and without prejudice but the experiences of sex workers in India and the stigma attached to them convey that excessive control by the state authorities would only further their harassment and exploitation by those in power. Even where healthcare is concerned, legalization might entail punitive quarantine etc., which would go against the rights of sex workers as free individuals. Legalization in the view of sex workers would thus perpetuate discrimination against them. Thus, most sex workers and their organizations advocate decriminalization, rather than legalization. This is bolstered by the fact that even in countries where sex work has been legalized, sex workers continue to live on the fringes of society and exploited. While brothel owners and some sex workers benefit, legalization fails to secure the economic and personal rights of all sex workers. All of this would go some way towards alleviating forced prostitution defined as a situation where the person engaged in sex work cannot change the immediate conditions of his/her existence, regardless of how they got into the work. If the work is decriminalized and the society ceases to see it as something derogatory, such people would have greater opportunity to switch to work they find preferable.. Contributed by: Aditi Mittal

Article: Volunteering
“Any activity which involves spending time, unpaid, doing something which aims to benefit someone (individuals or groups) other than or in addition to close relatives, or to benefit the environment.” This is how most people define volunteering. I would first like to appreciate my fellows to take over this responsibility of volunteering. While thinking one should ask a question - why should that responsibility come to an individual? The answer to it is simple responsibility comes with ownership. When one owns a thing, they begin to attach some responsibility towards it. All of us have taken this responsibility because we took ownership of it. Now, one should look at the next step after taking the ownership. For example, a person takes a responsibility to keep the road in front of his house clean because he owns that house. This person would be a keen onlooker. He would take care that no one throws any waste over there or spits in front of the house etc., because he knows that if he fails to do so, he is the ultimate loser as it would cost him the cleanliness of his own home. Likewise, we come to volunteer with an ownership towards our society, which draws in some responsibility from us. After committing to fulfill our responsibility, if we fail to give it our due efforts, we will be the ultimate losers by losing on our ownership of the society. Committing might be a relatively easier decision; the real element is sticking to the commitment. I mean, I may chose to call myself a Volunteer, but if I fail to take up the ownership of the community/society I live in, I fail in my commitment. If we must commit, we must also try to accomplish our commitment at any cost. I hope that all of remain committed for ourselves and let us aim to do something to have a better society. Contributed By: Selva

The engineers offer advice and expertise online to assist the development projects or relief operations in the developing countries. John Paul McKeown, founder of EngineerAid, says, “Many organizations in the Third World don’t have the means or specialist skills required to solve their problems, because of a lack of money or resources. Our engineers can help solve problems by volunteering some of their time to give advice over the Internet. Volunteer engineers are only asked to answer enquiries if they have time but they find it enormously satisfying because they can do something to help.” “Many queries come through aid organizations working in particular regions although we also welcome questions from individuals. They could be building a hospital or school and have a civil engineering problem, alternatively, they may be trying to keep a dilapidated piece of equipment working or need assistance on a design project. Our engineers have helped install computers in a Kenyan school to disaster relief in South Asia and everything in between covering all sectors, including: health, transport, agriculture, energy, water, sanitation, and construction.” All volunteer engineers are accredited by at least one of the 40-plus engineering institutes worldwide and have an average work experience of 10 years. At EngineerAid we believe that our free services can make a meaningful long-term difference across the globe. For more information, contact us at or visit our site Contributed By: Varda

Article: Engineering Support by EngineerAid
EngineerAid provides specialist assistance around the world by linking engineering experts with technical problems through Internet. EngineerAid promotes the sharing of knowledge across the globe promoting selfhelp to facilitate long-term sustainable development. We have a growing network of over 200 engineers from a range of companies including BAE Systems, BP, and Rolls Royce, who are qualified in a range of disciplines and are spread across 22 countries.

Campaign: RTI
RTI Act attempts to redeem the public their inherent Right to Information. The act leverages the right to seek information on matters concerning public welfare and in attempt makes the government directly answerable to the public. The act could have been a good tool to track the lacuna in the functioning of the government, thereby giving them an opportunity to work on the pain points. With most states passing the law, the opportunities seemed bright for the citizens who could benefit from this act, by demanding information on government

policies and the government records. The act empowers the masses by giving them an opportunity to participate in the day-to-day governance of India, thus making a sincere attempt to reduce corruption at all levels. Witnessing the passing of the law was bliss. The stepping stones of the right have been activists such as Aruna Roy, Anna Hazare, and various organizations like Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), Nagrik Chetna Manch, and Parivartan. Proposed amendments to the act diluted the provisions of the act. The amendments which sought to make only file notings on social and development issues accessible to the public met with contentions from the media, NGOs and members of parliament. The amendments are bound to rob the act of its essence, almost crippling it of its promised benefits. AID Delhi lent its voice to the campaign in a big way. The discussion forums of AID Delhi enlightened the minds and hearts of many enthusiasts, who came forward and lent both financial and non-financial support to the campaign. A dharna was organized by various NGOs at Jantar Mantar where noted activist Sandeep Panday was on hunger strike. AID Delhi volunteer Rajeshwar was at the Dharna for days at a stretch. The dharna saw amazing success, and the zero-rupee anit-bribery notes circulated at the dharna were a major hit. AID Delhi contributed funds to the tune of Rs. 15000 for the support of Dharna.

Campaign: Meal a Month
Pledge Your Meal a Month Today! Wherever you are, you can make a difference to lives of millions of underprivileged people in India. AID supports and participates in projects in various spheres including education, health, empowerment and rural technology. ( AID's ultra-low overheads also ensure that the funds are maximally utilized for the beneficiaries of the projects. In fact, AID has been rated as one of the best charities by the worldwide charity monitoring service. At present, funds are most urgently needed to support AID-Delhi’s Project: Khoj. Khoj - "step towards change" is a project started by Students of Delhi University to teach non- formal education to the street kids. Volunteers from AID-Delhi have joined hands to support Khoj. These kids during the day time roam around signals, are mostly beggars and are deprived of even basic amenities. There are around 50 kids being taught at the moment. Funds are needed to provide food, clothing, medicines and other basic amenities to these children. Your one act of humanity can bring about a difference in lives of these children. Join hands with AID-Delhi and pledge support for the cause. We ask you to donate "one" meal every month for any of the causes / projects on which AID Delhi is working. This will mean a different amount for every individual, for some it will be a lunch or dinner at some 5-Star, for some at Pizza Hut and for some at a roadside dhaba. Though cost of a meal may be different for everyone, but it holds the same value for all of us - rich or poor. So, everyone can participate in this drive. And this is a very powerful step, considering how many millions of people die of hunger around the world. This campaign makes everyone realize the value of the food we get to eat, and in the long run, help feed the hungry. Anyone and everyone can participate in this drive. All you need to do is fill up the pledge form by clicking “Meal a Month” on and our volunteers will get in touch with you. Contributed By: Lippika

Finally, it was victory for the people of India when government decided not to table the bill in current session of Parliament. We sincerely hope that RTI Act stays undiluted and gives way to a corruption-free India. Contributed By: Puneeta, Riputapan

In the TSR article, it was Bhaskar who tried the TSR complaint procedure and not Bhargava as mentioned. The error is regretted.

Organizational Shuffle at AID Delhi
There has been a recent organizational shuffle at AID Delhi. • Chapter President: Riputapan Singh (Previously: Mayank Agarwal) • Volunteer coordinator: Selva Ganapathy (Previously: Somendra Chakraborty) • Fundraising coordinator: Lippika Parwani (Previously: Ankit Khanna) • Publications coordinator: Puneeta Chugh (Previously: Riputapan Singh) • Shammi takes charge as overall coordinator for Noida. • Pheroza becomes the New Nai Disha coordinator (Previously: Shammi) • Ankita to coordinate Prayas evening class and Pratyush - the night class. • Chirag becomes Khoj project coordinator (Previously: Selva) Anuj, Nishant, Somen and Anirban continue to be the leading lights for all of us!

in every class. Children request us to visit on Sundays also. Seeing this, we plan to conduct at least the nonformal and fun sessions on Sundays also. After the class, we play catch-me-if-you-can, tipi-tipitap, oonch-neech, loha-lakkad, and many other games with the children. The favorite of many children is suidhaaga. The response from the MCD staff is also good. In the previous class we took a "dari" with us - in the last class, the staff had themselves spread a carpet on the floor. They have also started trusting us more and usually ask us to independently lock the premises after they leave. However, we have stopped conducting vocational training sessions for young girls due to the following reasons: a. Lack of enough volunteers to teach them skills b. The girls were not enthusiastic about coming to the godown. It being rainy season, we have stopped conducting sessions of krotia We were continuously getting feelers that girls are learning krotia to enhance their skill-set and not to actually improve their financial/social standing. So, till the time we gain better understanding of their expectations from a vocational training program, we do not intend to restart it. Meanwhile, we are exploring possibilities of using teaching techniques from Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS) and other organizations involved in nonformal/alternative teaching practices to introduce concepts to children. If possible, we will try and conduct a training session from such people for volunteers in all projects. We are also thinking to conduct a health check-up camp at the project soon. This will be a first formal step to introduce the concept of health-education and healthy-living to the children. At AID level, we feel a need to build a legal or logistics or some such cell which can help people resolve their problems related to electricity and water bills and other such stuff. This will help us in getting more involved in community related activities and not just education initiative etc. Present set of volunteers include Sudipta, Aparna, Somya, Mukta, Sherry, Nishant Jain, Nishant Bhaskar, Vijender Chauhan, Amit Gupta, Nitin Gupta, Anuj At present the classes are conducted on Saturdays

Project Updates: Timarpur
The education initiative at the Patrachar slum in Timarpur has grown well. We are thankful to the local councilor who permitted us to use the premises of MCD godown to conduct the classes. Initially, we started with a common class for all children (as was the practice before the availability of godown), but soon realized that with the availability of the godown we can segregate students into "formal" and "non-formal" sections. The "formal" section includes those students who regularly go to school and need help with understanding what is taught. This is very important because if this help is not provided, they may lose interest in going to school and may very well dropout. The "formal" section is conducted inside the room. There are about 15 students in the class. The "nonformal" section has students who are either too young, or do not go to school. We first need to evoke interest in them regarding education and schooling. We play some games with them, read them stories etc. and try to keep them engaged. There are about 30 students in the non-formal section. The community has begun to recognize us and is interested in working with us. We have new admissions

from 4:00pm-6:00pm. Timings for Sundays will also be the same. We invite all the interested people to visit the project and give their inputs. If you are interested in volunteering or need more details, please write to us at or Contributed by: Anuj Grover

The bond between Students and Volunteers reached a new dimension on the auspicious occasion of Rakhi, when students tied Rakhi to volunteers. Volunteers were equally jubilant on being tied Rakhi by students, which went upto 9-10 per volunteer. We ensured that Saturday computer classes remain unaffected by the I-Day celebrations. A Test was conducted recently for Class IV students and many of them did exceptionally well. Since only one computer is working out of the four computers there, it becomes highly unmanageable for the volunteers to give practical classes for a set of 30 students or so. I urge volunteers (Hardware Engineers) to come forward and look into the matter as school admin is finding it very difficult to afford one. The volunteer number visiting Nai Disha (atleast once) has also increased. As most of them are students, we have identified small term plans for them to get associated with Nai Disha. Volunteers are also being encouraged to visit Prayas. Present Volunteers: Pheroza , Vipul , Abrahim, Priyanka, Rajat Goel, Rinku , Shammi Contributed By: Shammi

Project Updates: AID Gurgaon
• • • • • AID Delhi is happy to announce the successful official collaboration of AID Gurgaon with EVS! Many members of EVS CSR have started visiting Mobile Crèches with AID Gurgaon volunteers. Requirement for doctors in Mobile Crèches has been identified. CSR team comprising has identified the doctors working in EVS for help. Various methods have been identified for fund generation. Collection boxes will soon be placed at Evalueserve reception to collect Rs. 50 or more per month from CSR volunteers. Plans are also on to generate awareness amongst EVS employees, regarding cleaner environment. Volunteers have been stressing on the need for optimal use of resources, such as electricity and water. We are also trying to build awareness on hygiene and general living amongst h ousekeeping and pantry staff and their families. Significant steps have been taken to create awareness on the importance of education of their children and to ensure that their children are not bereft of this opportunity. CSR team is also making efforts to help organize a health check-up camp for them. Contributed By: Deepak Syal

Project Updates: Khoj
Activity Highlights • AID Delhi has approved funds for Khoj - Rs 8000 pm. First installment will amount to Rs. 9000 (1000 one-time payment). Funding will start from the month of September. • Provisions need to be made to organize regular health camps at Khoj. Need for an eye specialist and dentist has also been felt. It has been observed that children at Ber Serai center have been suffering serious dental ailments owing to their poor eating habits. • The hygiene habits amongst the children are extremely poor and they are improving very slowly. Given the conditions in which the children live - they are very prone to diseases and accidents. None of them have been given vaccinations and de-worming tablets so far. One health checkup per month thus seems to be an indispensable move to ensure the well-being of children. • Khoj is on a lookout for the volunteers who can render medical aid to the kids.

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Project Updates: Nai Disha
Independence Day preparations took the top priority last month, as most of students were involved in various cultural events that were suppose to take place on 15th of August. The Sponsors were invited for IDay celebrations at Nai Disha. We also helped the students of Class V to come up with a small Skit based on History to enrich the importance of freedom and studies.

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A new volunteer Sahil has started going to the Hyatt flyover everyday (except wednesdays).He is extremely committed and very good at teaching. The final presentation for Khoj has been prepared by Vaibhav Tandon & Divya with inputs from all. SMS campaign to get new volunteers was launched. Each volunteer sent 10 sms's whose recipient was to send 10 further messages. Posters for cloth drive and book drive were distributed. An action plan about getting vocational training was discussed in detail. A three month plan was chalked out to ensure that everyone’s on the same page to achieve the goals set by the team. This is to: o Get more and regular funds for Khoj o Get new committed volunteers who can teach at Jor Bagh, Hyatt flyover, and Ber Sarai on weekdays. We have enough volunteers for weekends. o Launch a Health Drive ASAP. De-worming and vitamin tablets need to be distributed. And also blood tests and vaccinations need to be done. An eye check up camp is desired as well. o Spearhead a clothes drive. Since winters are approaching in 2 months from now, kids would soon be needing woolens and warmers. Also socks and shoes to be collected. Blankets can be distributed in winter. o Collect books. A fixed curriculum needs to be followed. And children need to be divided into groups on the basis of their current level of education. Different volunteers will then be delegated the responsibility to take care of these different groups. o Create awareness in the community about the benefits of education. The team has succeeded so far in this task at all the centers, except Ber sarai and the new centers which have come up at Nehru place. o Ensure a regular attendance at all centers. Timings of the classes also need to be increased. o Improve sense of hygiene among children.

o Tackle the issue of violence against the children. Nearly all the children of D illi Haat are beaten up very badly regularly by the committee member (and one police officer). Something definitely needs to be done in this respect. o Discuss a chart of common diseases and their remedies and preventions in the community. o Explore whether anyone there is facing or has faced any kind of physical or sexual assault. This is a relatively tough task and it will need further discussions amongst the team members to arrive at a plan to achieve this objective. o Get as many students as possible into the school. The group has already been receiving good results in this regard. o Introduce vocational training at Dilli Haat.

Contributed By: Chirag

Project Updates: Prayas
AID Prayas evening classes started in the month of July. The mission of Prayas, evening classes is to educate unprivileged girls in the society and make them aware of their identity and right to live their life. Currently, we are a team of six female volunteers taking classes in the community itself. The classes are conducted alternatively, thrice a week. The strength of girls has risen to 23. The response is good. Girls are keen to study - sometimes they skip the household work to attend classes.

This project is in evolving stage, so we are in process of providing the basic necessities for education and trying to raise their level of understanding. We are getting great help from Rahul, Rajat, and Ripu as an experience from Prayas, night school and from other projects. Working toward growing education in India, Prayas Team: Amita, Deepali, Rakhi,Sonia, Ankita, Harleen H.E.L.P Updates at Prayas: In an effort to stabilize the health initiatives at Prayas, additional health and hygiene sessions were conducted by Priyanka. Being the monsoon season, an interactive session on Dengue: Prevention & Cure was conducted this month. Most of the children were well aware of the practices to be followed for prevention of mosquito breeding and getting bitten by mosquitoes. Though it seemed some of them really didn’t understand why it was necessary to follow these practices. We hope that this will be altered over future such sessions.

Volunteer Profile: Manish Agarwal
Manish (AID Delhi webmaster) is doing PhD in Computational Chemistry from IIT Delhi. He has been a dear junior to me and Somendra (ex-AID Delhi volunteer coordinator) since he started doing his MSc project in the lab, where I finished my PhD in March 2006 and Somendra is on his way to finishing his. Manish came to know about AID through the numerous conversations I and Somendra had with him in the lab. We often took his help to tweak the earlier versions of AID Delhi website and for our research work. Finally, when Manish finished his MSc in 2005 he got enough time to focus single mindedly to create a Content Management System (Mambo) based website from scratch. He didn’t have any knowledge about Mambo before he started off but it was his “intel inside” (title given by his MSc classmates) instincts which enabled him to get the website up and running in about one month’s time in quietest way possible. Since then he has been a pillar of support for managing AID Delhi website.

We also administered multivitamin tonic doses to the children this month. The tonic was given to more than fifty girls and boys of all age groups. We are trying to regularize the administering of multivitamin doses and plan to do the same at least once in a fortnight. We have also expressed the need to extend this initiative to other projects in the city and need volunteers to help us make this happen. Contributed by: Ankita, Priyanka

He has also helped the AID wide IT team with his wizardry. He continues to be the most reliable resource person for taking care of technical aspects of AID Delhi website. You name a computer-related problem and he will roll out several solutions to fix it instantly. He is a symbol of inspiration for those who are not from computer science and still want to leave a mark in that field. With special powers comes enormous responsibilities and Manish has always stuck to it. Contributed By: Anirban

Feedback: Web: Phone: +91-9213797167 DONATE TO AID Publications Team Online: E-transfer to ICICI Bank a/c 602201200299 Editors: Puneeta, Riputapan By Cheque: Mail cheques in favor of AID-India to :Designers: Chandan, Puneeta AID Delhi,c/o R. Selva Ganapathy, Dept. of Chemical Coordinator: Puneeta Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi - 16
-DisclaimerIndividual views expressed in the newsletter,including those of the editor, may not necessarily coincide with those of AID Delhi