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Sex-worker turned sanitation worker to bag award

Lata Mane, who was a commercial sex worker in the late 90s, founded a Ghatkopar self-help group in 2007 under the Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY) - a central government scheme for women's empowerment. In 2013, her group bagged a slum sanitation project at Nityanand Nagar, Ghatkopar for 16 units. Now, the group is eyeing bigger projects, and slum sanitation is its chance to get assimilated with the city's working class.

Mane will soon receive a Confederation of Indian Industry award for her exemplary work. Each woman worker is paid Rs. 4,600 a month for sweeping the roads, cleaning garbage and keeping public toilets clean. That apart, the men get Rs. 5,600 each to clean the drains.

The 38-year old Mane had been sold to a Kamathipura brothel in 1995 by her husband. She had wanted to escape the profession. Narrating her horrific state then, she mentioned that there were days when she had to drink sewage water and beg outside temples for food. There were times when the men beat her up. Today, Mane herself employs four men to clean the drains — a requirement in the sanitation contract. She talks confidently, has a bank account and has sent her daughters to a boarding school.

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