By DR JAGADISH THAKER A communication campaign to reduce stigma and discrimination, increase employment opportunities, and help access health and legal services for community members under the umbrella term “Men-who-have-sex-with-men, Transgender, and Hijra communities” (MTH) was recently launched in Hyderabad, in collaboration with India HIV/AIDS Alliance, Uday Siri Public Welfare Society (Karimnagar, Telangana) and Sneha Bandam Maa Seva Sangam (Ongole, Andhra Pradesh). Our analysis of academic literature in India showed that more research was published on behavioral surveillance among the so-called “MTH” community members, such as transmission rates, sexual behaviors, and condom usage, compared to studies on stigma, discrimination, and its associated health impacts on knowledge and access to health and employment services. Advisory board members – comprising about 5 members in each of the two cities – separately charted the communication objectives and outcomes, as well as the design and implementation of the campaign. Our role, as academic partners, was to listen, build trust, and help build the communication capacity of the community partners. The campaign was launched at the end of March in Hyderabad. Seen below at the poster launch are advisory board members from Karimanagar and Ongole, and other officials during the State Solidarity Event 207 against 377 at Hyderabad. Nitin, our design and campaign implementation partner, provided us with some of the photos and was the one in charge of designing the posters. Our colleague Julio Etchart also contributed some of the photos below.
The screening of our first documentary for the "RESPECT OUR RIGHTS" campaign was recently held earlier last month on the 5th February at the Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium. The documentary was collaboratively produced with 27 foreign domestic workers who shared their stories during their terms of employment here in Singapore. The aim of this documentary is to raise awareness on the various issues and challenges experienced by these workers. A panel discussion followed after the screening which consists of: Mr Jolovan Wham - Executive Director of H.O.M.E. Ms Celine Dermine - Legal Consultant for H.O.M.E. Prof. Mohan Dutta - Head of CNM & Director of CARE Ms Juvy Lavarias - Ex Domestic Worker & Advisory Board participant A Photovoice exhibition was also held outside the venue to showcase the photographs that were taken by a group of foreign domestic workers. This participatory image-making workshops have given them opportunities to represent themselves and empowering them through visual literacy and image-gathering skills. These photos were also aimed to raise public awareness about their plight working here in Singapore.