Mumbai: Two months after it started an all-women post office at Mumbai’s Kamathipura for sex workers, India Post held a wellness session focussed on healthy meals and the importance of sharing personal problems for them. The session lasted for over three hours on Tuesday and was the first of similar monthly sessions. An art therapy session was also held for children.
Over 100 women attended the first session in Kamathipura, where around 1,700 sex workers live. Postmaster general (Mumbai division) Swati Pandey said these women need someone to sit, talk and understand them. “They need an outlet. A heart-to-heart conversation. I decided to start this programme to make them feel equally comfortable in reaching out to the government as they do with the NGOs.”
Pandey said the post office was opened for financial inclusion. She added they also felt the need for holistic healthcare sessions.
Pandey’s team started the initiative by inaugurating a sanitary pad vending machine. The pads will be available at ₹5. “Since it was the first, we kept the sessions lighter. It was important to talk to them about menstrual hygiene and the importance of paying attention to their diet and mental well-being.”
Pandey said a dietician spoke about inexpensive but nutritious meals. “We had a breathing exercise session and taught them basic ways of relaxation,” said Pandey. She said many women in the area rely on cotton clothes as they cannot afford sanitary pads.
Pandey said they have roped in NGO Project Mumbai to have counsellors, nutritionists, and other health experts talk to the workers.
Shishir Joshi, CEO, and founder of Project Mumbai, said collaborative activities with India Post will continue. “…we are looking at sustained intervention in Kamathipura. We will be focusing on the emotional well-being of both adults and children.”
A woman living in Kamathipura since 2002 said she has seen many NGOs and people showing their concern. “…we are happy that a government body is getting involved to guide us through our day-to-day problems.”
Another resident of the area said they did not have anyone to guide them about money. “It has always been a risk to trust someone. We usually send our savings to our villages and lose control over them. We continue to remain dependent on our families for our own money. I have started a postal saving scheme for my three-year-old daughter.”
The post office offers savings, recurring, time deposit and public provident fund, monthly income, and Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana schemes.
“These women are sole breadwinners of their families and go through a lot of hardships. This is our small step towards providing them societal along with financial inclusion,” said Pandey. She said sessions will be also involve cooking and dance competitions.