Include us in policy decisions impacting us, say sex workers

‘Nothing about us without us,’ the sex workers’ networks, which included the All India Network of Sex Workers (AINSW), said during a discussion here on Friday.

Representing 90 sex workers’ organisations from 16 States and civil society organisations, the discussion concluded that the “time has come for all key stakeholders to place communities most vulnerable and caught in the cross-fire of trafficking to be at the centre of any consultation on change in law, policy or programme.”

Organisations like the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC), Ashodaya Samithi, CREA, and women’s rights and legal experts Tripti Tandon and Mona Mishra were part of the discussion organised in the Capital.

Affirming support

Speaking about the three regional consultations held between September and October 2016 with representatives from 43 sex workers’ organisations from West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Telangana, Rupsa Mallik from CREA said that one demand was that “no policy decision on issues which directly or incidentally impact sex workers should be made without meaningful and inclusive consultation with sex workers.”

In a release, the group maintained that “this was to affirm support for the over three million sex workers across the country, who have played an important role in bringing down HIV infections. It is also to urge civil society and women’s rights organisations to join a protest march on 8 March, which is International Women’s Day, to uphold the rights and dignity of some of the most marginalised sections of society.”

Experts speak

Human rights lawyer Tripti Tandon said that “with raid and rescue being synonymous with shock and fear, what it destroys is trust and respect, which women need the most, to enable them to resist trafficking.”

‘Violation of protocol’

Reinforcing this, women’s rights expert Mona Mishra said that “by conflating sex work and trafficking, the law enforcement agencies end up policing sex work, rounding up and intimidating women, often in violation of the protocols they have created to ensure humane rescue and rehabilitation.”

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 9:00:07 PM |

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