Put forth 10 demands, appeal to State to look into their problems

Indira Female Peer Educators Collective (IFPEC), a community-based organisation that works with sex workers on Tuesday, put forth several demands for the welfare of sex workers and appealed to the government to look into the problems faced by them.

Chief among their demands was a pension for those over 40 years of age, “After the age of 40 they can no longer be part of the trade, and many end up becoming brokers, because they do not know of any other work,” said K. Kalaivani, Secretary, IFPEC.

Ten demands were placed. These include, providing a welfare board for female sex workers, free legal aid, quality medical service for aged female sex workers, short-stay homes for stigmatised sex workers, funding to help curb trafficking of women and children, providing financial support to female sex workers to start their own businesses, and protection from harassment.

“Another important demand is that the Slum Clearance Board allot houses on a priority basis, because sex workers find it extremely difficult to finding housing,” said Kalaivani. They also demanded that the government provide funds to aid daughters of female sex workers to get married.

“Many women become sex workers because of family circumstances. Once you become a sex worker it is very difficult to assimilate back into society because of the trade’s stigma,” she said.

P.N. Shanthi, the organisation’s treasurer, said that in Tamil Nadu, many women who become sex workers come from broken families or are widows.

Of the 2,088 women who are part of their group, around 50, said Kalaivani are living with HIV, and they no longer work. One of the resolutions adopted at the meeting was that sex workers would refuse any client who was not willing to use condoms.

“Sex workers face a multitude of issues. Brokers usurp most of the money and harassment from clients still continues,” she said.

Though there are women who have sought vocational training and have become drivers and tailors, for instance, the number is very small, she added.

A welfare board, free legal aid and medical services were some of the facilities sought