Violence in the intimate relationships of female sex workers increases their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. An intervention and evaluation study in northern Karnataka, India, Samvedana Plus seeks to understand and address this form of violence and HIV risk.
Evidence that an intervention works is crucial but practitioners in the field want to know: How does it work? These briefs give some answers.
Samvedana Plus provides individual and couple counselling and holds workshops for the intimate partners (IPs) of female sex workers. It aims to make men more sensitive and responsible in their relationships and treat the sex workers with respect as equals.
I was feeling weak. The sessions made me aware that alcohol and tobacco were affecting my health. I got tested for HIV and the result was negative. But the fear encouraged me to use condoms with my partners. Sex is less satisfying but I continue to use it as I am afraid of getting sick.
Samvedana Plus engages with local community leaders, residents, family members and self-help groups to design sustainable ways to prevent violence, raise awareness about domestic violence, create networks of support and action within the community and advocate for women’s rights. Community dialogue, street plays, folk shows and stakeholder meetings increase awareness of relevant rights and laws.
Samvedana Plus seeks to strengthen the community-based organisations (CBOs) of female sex workers in order to:
- recognise this form of violence against members
- stand together against partner violence
- strengthen its own systems to stop this violence
Samvedana Plus is designed to understand and address violence and HIV risk in the intimate partnerships of FSWs. The baseline survey of FSWs found that close to 51% experienced some form of violence from their partners. About 66% believed violence in their intimate relationships to be justified if it was for the sake of the children or to keep the family together. Here, social norms around the acceptability of violence carried more weight than the individual’s own perceptions.
Violence is not love.