Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Trust building: Not an easy task !

The reading on the Participatory change among the Commercial Sex Workers in both the programs viz., SHIP and New Light Project has created an urge to point out towards the problem of building trust among the people we work with and amongst themselves in programs such as these which aim at bringing a "social change" through the solidarity networks among the community members. The first hurdle that I could identify while reading this piece is about gaining trust among the sex workers. It needs, not a simple effort but a very time consuming and confidence exhausting one. Gaining access to such areas in itself is so tough and this hurdle is further made tougher to cross by the earlier researchers or film makers or whatever they may be who have selfishly used their obnoxious stories for their goals of controversial movies or dissertations and publications in case of academicians or funding agencies. Most of them have exploited these people and left them with no hope for improvement and also have blocked whatever little passages available for the new researchers and other professionals who would actually intend to work to bring the change. Another example of such an exploitation can be anthropologist Jacques Lizot's study of the Yanomami. He has exploited these people for his sexual pleasures and dismantled the trust these people would have for other "outsiders" who would want to communicate with them. They do not trust the people anymore and cannot be blamed for the same. Another such example (though a different context) is Danny Boyle the film director of "Slumdog Millionaire" who, in my personal opinion had exploited the slum dwellers of Dharavi in Mumbai. He is very well put to use what goes on in these slums and earned himself all the accolades including the Oscar and have not done much to atleast help the children that were part of the movie. Instances like these have permanently blocked the pathways and made the reaching out to the people nearly impossible.
Building trust amongst the members of the society is also tough due to their own misconceptions and prejudices about themselves. This is multiply magnified when it again involves funding agencies and other professionals or institutes and ultimately becomes a vicious circle. More work and training in the realm of trust building, thus is needed, to be able to work with people and especially the marginalized communities to reach the set goals, be it their empowerment or advocacy of health intervention. And i am sure this cannot be learned in classroom or a workshop but has to be experiential and can be comprehended through real interaction and it demands ethical conduct of research which is not an easy task!

No comments: