Media sensitisation workshop held in Dharwad

The attitude of the police towards sex workers should change to protect them from institutional harassment, said Balasubramanya, the senior manager of the Karnataka Health Promotion Trust (KHPT).

Mr. Balasubramanyam was speaking at a media sensitisation workshop organised by the trust, in association with the Belaku Mahila Sangha, on ‘Checking violence against sex workers’ here on Wednesday.

Expressing concern over the growth in institutional harassment against sex workers in the State, he said it amounted to violation of human rights and threatened their dignity.

A large section of society, including the police and the media, remained unaware of the situation, he added.


Institutional harassment put sex workers under tremendous mental stress. They were being portrayed as a social taboo. Police brutality, discrimination in healthcare, legal service and in the media were some of the problems faced by sex workers today. To add to the problem was the criminalisation of sex workers.

According to a survey, nearly 70 per cent of sex workers were beaten by the police, and more than 80 per cent were arrested without any evidence.

In Karnataka, it was estimated that 26.4 per cent of sex workers had been beaten or raped in the past year. However, sex workers who face abuse are deprived of the security of law due to their position in society.


Besides being under high risk of HIV-infection, sex workers experienced physical and emotional abuse in their private and public lives, from family, media and others.

The trust was sensitising the judiciary, media and the police to protect sex workers from such abuse.

Judges trained

The Karnataka Judicial Academy, along with the KHPT, had trained more than 600 judges and a similar effort was being made to create awareness among the police.


The Samvedana project, funded by the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, was launched recently.

It would address violence against women in sex work within the ambit of the existing HIV prevention programme, he said.

Trust regional manager Deepa Rose said the trust was building links between sex workers and the departments of Police, Women and Child Development, and Health, as well as the judiciary and the media.

The Karnatake Health Promotion Trust also strengthened support mechanisms by linking to services such as counselling, legal aid, microfinance, and livelihood options, she said.

  • ‘Institutional harassment of sex workers amounts to human rights violation’

  • Survey says 70 per cent of sex workers are beaten by the police