Tamar is a project of the Freeset Trust. It was established in response to a growing need at Freeset Bags & Apparel for a more formalised structure to manage the enormous social and health needs of the community. Tamar has a broad vision that reaches beyond the walls of Freeset to offer services to the wider community of sex workers in our neighborhood in Kolkata and eventually into the villages of Murshidabad.
Health Support Services
Tamar provides health services to the staff employed at Freeset Bags and Apparel, as well as some services to other businesses employing women from Kolkata’s sex trade. A 3 month health education program is taught for 1 hour per day to women during their 3 month training period with Freeset Bags and Apparel. This program is designed to help women become aware of their own bodies as well providing a basic understanding of simple health conditions, and basic first aid training.
Tamar also conducts well women’s health check-ups (consisting of HIV, VDRL, Hb, Thyroid, CDC, Blood Sugar, Chest X-ray, ECG tests) to women exiting the sex trade and beginning employment at Freeset Bags and Apparel. Tamar also provides health advocacy for women who need help accessing health services and understanding their health conditions.
Literacy Support Services
Tamar runs a literacy and numeracy program for women exiting the sex trade and starting work at Freeset Bags and Apparel. Literacy classes allow the women to regain independence by reading road signs, and busses; as well as this comes the dignity and self confidence in being able to sign their own name. Numeracy classes are designed to teach women basic addition and subtraction. With these skills women no longer run the risk of been taken advantage of in the marketplace as they can calculate for themselves the bill total and how much change they are due.
Economic Support Services
Tamar runs budgeting classes to help women exiting the sex trade learn to manage their money in more sustainable ways. There is also one on one support for debt management and budgeting as required.
Education Support Services
Tamar acts as intermediate between local schools, hostels and at risk children to encourage them in their education. Tamar also works with children who have dropped out of school and finds ways for them to re-enter school or find a vocational training program for them to enter.
Tamar has made partnerships with different schools, so that children referred by Tamar receive education at a significant discount
Emotional Support Services
Tamar provides emotional support services for women exiting the sex trade. A 3 month intensive psycho social group therapy program was launched in 2013. This program is designed for women who are just leaving the trade and gives them tools to work through some of the trauma they experienced during their time in the sex trade. In 2014 a modified version of the psycho social group therapy was launched as an ongoing service for all Freeset staff. This is designed as a way for women to continue on the journey of healing from the trauma they have experienced in the trade. Freedom in its wholeness is a lifelong journey for Freeset women; ongoing group therapy allows women to heal in smaller tight nit loving communities. Where appropriate we also provide one to one support for women who are particularly struggling emotionally.
In 2011 the Tamar community centre was opened in Sonagacchi, Kolkata’s largest red light district. The community centre exists as a safe space in the community for the many who still await freedom from the sex trade. The community centre is open 5 days a week with an average of 120 women accessing the centre on a weekly basis. The community centre also provides advocacy on any social needs arising.