"Thousands of women today call me 'amma' (mother). It reflects their love and trust in me. This is the greatest honor for me."
"Humility, combined with an iron will to uplift the downtrodden. It is this unique combination that makes Jayamma the inspiring woman that she is." (Stella Paul)
Since 2001, Jayamma Bandari lives in Secunderabad and is managing our organisation, Chaithanya Mahila Mandali (CMM) with great care.
She helps women who suffer the same fate she once managed breaking out of.
JAYAMMA - AN ORPHAN
Jayamma lost her parents at the age of 3 and grew up at her grandparents' house, in a remote village at Nalgonda District, Andhra Pradesh, until the age of 17.
At the young age of 14 she lost her grandparents and her life changed drastically.
From now on Jayamma had to live under the care of her maternal uncle, who forced her to quit school and work as the main provider for the family instead.
Soon her uncle started looking for a bridegroom to wed Jayamma. As he could not pay for another marriage, he forced a man who was already married and had children to marry her anyways. Although, Jayamma did not have to marry this man in the end, the pressurisation of her uncle never stopped.
JAYAMMA - MOTHER AND WIFE
One day, Jayamma went to her cousin's wedding in Yadagirigutta. There she met a man and fell in love with him. Later he convinced her to marry him, they both left their families to marry at the Yadagirigutta Temple in 1995. Afterwards Jayamma started to live at her sister's house. Her husband continued living in Hyderabad but he frequently came, to visit Jayamma at the village in Nalgonda District.
In the course of time, Jayamma got pregnant and gave birth to a girl. Therefore the married couple decided to live together. They moved to Hyderabad, rented a house in Uppal and lived there as a family.
Some years gone by and Jayamma's husband got addicted to alcohol. He spent most of the family's money on his addiction and his behaviour and condition was getting worse. Moreover, her husband started insisting that she had to earn money for him and eventually introduced her to a broker so that she forcibly entered into sex work. She was confused and hurt and did not know, where she could go to get help with her situation. There were times where she wanted to end her life, but could not leave her innocent daughter behind.
Jayamma made money, but she had no peace and her heart broke. Whenever she met a man, she thought about the unfortunate lifes and compared herself with more privileged women. She got addicted to alcohol to forget the pain and agony, which she felt exposed to after entering into prostitution.
At that time she had no knowledge about HIV and AIDS, about other sexually transmitted infections or about the possibility of using condoms, to avoid sexually transmitted diseases.
JAYAMMA - A SOCIAL REFORMER
Jayamma experienced hardship herself, so she was able to understand other women’s issues and their reasons. Being kidnapped, procured illegally, repeatedly raped, beaten, sold, bought, wrongfully confined, mentally and physically abused, subjected to unnatural offences, tortured and injured by clients, husband and policemen – Jayamma began to bring these women together, created a network and started to fight. Unfortunately, the fights could not take place in public, because some of these women operated with the high network of illegal deeds.
JAYAMMA AND THE NGO
Mr Jaya Singh Thomas, a professional social worker while he was doing a study among the street Children in Hyderabad inspired him to dedicate himself as a social worker for the rest of his life joined in a NGO, while on his ongoing field visits came into contact with Jayamma on a street with lots of struggle longing for life that shall provide her dignity , having studied all about her life and her interest , he proposed her to join in the same NGO promising her dignified job and convinced the NGO to accept her as co- staff in one of their newer projects that was just initiated.
JAYAMMA - FIRST WOMAN IN SEX WORK TO PURSUE A DIGNIFIED JOB
Jayamma had been offered by the NGO to take a Coordinator Position in the year 1999 in a HIV prevention program that was just initiated by the Organization. The NGO was the first of its kind in Andhra Pradesh, which adopted a community member in its project. Jaya Singh and his ongoing support to Jayamma-her life turned bright. Jayamma supported Jaya Singh's idea of reforming the situation of sex workers. They succeeded with various strategies in uniting all women under one identity and got registered as Chaithanya Mahila Mandali (CMM) by Andhra Pradesh Telangana Area Public Societies Registration Act in the year of 2001.
JAYAMMA - MOTHER OF MANY AND OF CMM
Jayamma took over as the President of the association and Jaya Singh begun to support her in all the ways and the team from the back and started to publish various issues of this particular community and formed Private and Governmental partnerships.
Since Chaithanya Mahila Mandali had been established, Jayamma has become a mother figure for many people. She was accessible all the time and had to deal with many difficult circumstances: Starting from police raids, issues with public in general, rented house owners, other women associations, clients, court cases or issues between community women and pimps/ brokers. But having seen the positive impact she made, many women began to take memberships and started benefitting.
Up until now CMM helped to shape many lives to the better. This includes, preventing many young women and adolescent girls from entering into sex work, sheltering and educating sex worker's children, rescuing women and children from the street and helping them to return home, or helping them to find alternative livelihoods. CMM had to face many difficulties throughout at the beginning, but now it can be proud of its achievements and will continuously strive to better sex worker's lives in the future.
RECOGNITIONS AND AWARDS RECEIVED