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India: Students' radio to empower sex workers

Apr 21, 2011

A community radio station for sex workers in Mumbai has joined hands with the Mumbai University to strengthen their voices in public. The community radio, run by Snehalaya helps raise awareness on HIV/AIDS, education and the rights of the sex workers.

Mumbai, India: In a city where the voice of marginalised communities is lost in the daily hustle-bustle, the University of Mumbai has decided it's about time they are heard. The university’s two-year-old community radio channel, Mumbai University Students Transmission (MUST), has tied up with Radio Ahmednagar 90.4 FM, a community radio for commercial sex workers, where they will be training and sharing content with them.

Radio Ahmednagar 90.4 FM, which was launched in January this year, gave commercial sex workers a chance to express their opinions on air for the first time. “We heard about how the [Mumbai] university community radio was successful in Mumbai and approached them to help us, both with content and training,” said Girish Kulkarni, honorary director of the radio station.

Neeraj Hatekar, a professor from the economics department, who heads MUST said, “We have a lot of Marathi music and several Marathi programmes that deal with a variety of issues from education to HIV awareness. We want our radio station to become a platform for all marginalised communities. Next, we are planning to train transgender radio jockeys.”

The community radio has also offered to reciprocate the university’s gesture of sharing content with them.

“Even we have content that we can share with the university. For example, Anna Hazare gave us an hour-long interview right before he left for Jantar Mantar for his fast,” said Kulkarni.

The MUST radio station covers a 10-km radius and runs for 14 hours a day. It can be heard on 107.8 FM.

Radio Ahmednagar 90.4 FM, is also making an attempt to run for 14 hours.

The station was started by a non-government organisation, Snehalaya, which has been working with sex workers for more than a decade.

Apart from programmes for and by sex workers, the radio station also focuses on slum children and health care issues along with music and entertainment.

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