“No bank allowed sex workers to open accounts due to lack of proper identity cards. It was a struggle for them to keep their money safe. It was common for them to lose money due to stealing, making them vulnerable to customers who paid more money for no condoms. We had to come up with a bank.” he says.
Usha Multipurpose Co-operative Society Limited was founded in 1995, and merged later with DMSC. It was registered under the Societies Act — which was also a battle fought and won. “Under the Act, people without moral character could not register an organisation as it was considered that sex workers did not have any moral character,” says Santanu Chaterjee, finance manager at Usha. “We met the then Co-operative Minister of State Saral Dev who said that ‘character’ is a relative term and allowed us to open the bank,” says Mr. Chaterjee. With 29,000 members, Usha is one of the biggest success stories in co-operative banking in South Asia. Its turnover last year was Rs.29 crore. “In 2015, nearly 7,000 members took a loan, out of which 48 per cent was for children’s education,” he says.It's an example for parents' desire to educate their kids. Contrast this desire and sacrifice in general, with the quality of our schools. It rightly seems that we are perpetuating one of the most inhumane crimes by failing to provide quality education to students.