Delhi

‘Cops, brothel-owners force us to vote’

Sex workers during an interaction at G.B. Road. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma  

“I vote because I am forced to do so by policemen, politicians and brothel-owners...” says 35-year-old Deepa, a sex worker who knows nothing about the upcoming Delhi Assembly elections or candidates.

She and many other sex workers living in the dingy by-lanes of Garstin Bastion Road, more popularly known as G.B. Road, constitute a major population of Central Delhi’s Kamla Market.

These women cast their votes regularly during all elections, not because they think their lives will change if they vote but because they are forced to do so to increase the vote count.

They claim that they do not know their legislators, the Chief Ministerial candidates of the parties or any of the politicians for that matter.

“Governments and administration keeps changing, but our lives remain the same. Nobody does anything for us. Nobody even comes to ask for our vote. How will we know the legislators?” said Jumana, another sex worker.

“We used to vote for Congress till the last elections, but this time we might vote for the Aam Aadmi Party. Arvind Kejriwal is also an aam aadmi like us. So we will vote for him,” she added.

“When the Congress government was in power, we used to get Rs.600 per month as part of the Annashree scheme. Now, even that has been stopped. We want the new government to start the scheme again,” yet another one added.

“Please come and see our houses. The kind of place that we live in, nobody will ever be able to live there. None of us are living here out of our own will. But if the government provides us an alternative means of earning money, we will leave this place. All we want is a respectable means of livelihood and a house,” said Pooja.

“Many girls who are rescued by the police return to the brothels. What else will they do? The government does not have rehabilitation facilities for them. Once they are out of this area, they cannot live a life of respect.”

Many of these women have children, who live away from them in private hostels. “If all I am able to get out of this profession and live a respectable life, I would want to live with my children. But I will never let them know that I worked here...” she added.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 10:05:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/cops-brothelowners-force-us-to-vote/article6828401.ece

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