In a bid to woo voters in the West Bengal’s red light areas, the Election Commission has supported a move to have a separate booth for sex workers in Nadia district where polling will be held on April 23.
“The Election Commission has granted a special booth to be used exclusively by sex workers of Shantipur in Nadia at our proposal,” District Magistrate Sanjay Bansal told PTI here.
Four female election department workers will be in charge of the booth at Durgamani High School in the red light area, Mr. Bansal said.
The names of 75 sex workers and their families existed on the electoral rolls in Shantipur constituency, but only 20 per cent turned up to vote in the last elections.
After observing that the majority of sex workers stayed away from voting as they faced insults from other people in the queue, the Nadia administration took the step of arranging an exclusive booth, said Mr. Bansal.
“When we came to know the reason why many sex workers did not turn up to vote, we stepped in and informed the State Election Commission for allowing a separate booth for them. This was forwarded to the Election Commission of India,” Mr. Bansal said.
“The Commission granted permission for a separate booth. The move is rare in India and probably for the first time in West Bengal,” he said.
The Nadia administration also enlisted new names of sex workers from the red light area with the rolls having 122 additional ones to the existing 75, taking the total to 197.
The permission for a separate booth was granted a day before Holi and the sex workers received the news by dabbing colours on each other.
Some sex workers, however, were not happy with the arrangement as they felt a separate booth would further isolate them.
“Maybe, it is a good effort, but from the other point of view we will be isolated from the society when a separate booth is arranged for us,” said a sex worker requesting anonymity.