Director Advocacy of Karnataka Health Promotion Trust (KHPT) Ashokananda regretted that despite commercial sex workers being considered ‘victims’ under Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA), the psyche of people towards sex workers has not changed as they still considered them as ‘culprits’ rather than victims.

Addressing a workshop of mediapersons on the atrocities on commercial sex workers here on Wednesday, he said that even the law enforcement agencies have failed to understand the aspiration of the law. The workshop was organised by KHPT, Aids Jagruti Mahila Sangha and the Department of Information.

Mr. Ashokananda said the Act vehemently treats commercial sex workers as ‘victims’ and considers the people who benefit indirectly from the sex workers as ‘culprits’.

“Unfortunately, not much efforts have been made to propagate the basic objective of the Act among the people and law enforcement agencies. The commercial sex workers will keep getting exploited until the Act’s objectives sinks in the people’s mindset,” he said.

To a question, he responded that no existing law in the country described prostitution as illegal. He said that while prostitution per se was not considered illegal, soliciting prostitution in public areas was against the law.

‘Clients spread AIDS’

He also claimed that the clients of the prostitutes were more responsible in spreading HIV/AIDS than the sex workers.

Stating that on an average each sex worker has nearly twenty regular clients, he said it was these clients who had sex with multiple women and also with their wives, which increased the risk of HIV/AIDS spreading multiple times.

He said that while there were around 1.35 lakh officially known sex workers in the State, their clients numbered around 20 lakh.

He regretted that even though the Health Department and the NGO have reached out to the sex workers and the people who get benefits from this ‘occupation’, no one has been able to reach their clients. “If we are able to reach the clients, then it is possible to spread awareness even among them on precautionary measures,” he said.

Increased awareness

Expressing happiness over the increasing awareness among the sex workers about the importance of regular health checkups to prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), Mr. Ashokananda said most of the sex workers not only insisted their client using condoms, but also got regular health check up.

Though commercial sex workers are considered ‘victims’ under Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act, the people considered them as ‘culprits’