Mumbai

Lawyer educates sex workers on how to avoid harassment by police

Dr. Nilesh Pawaskar at the special workshop organised by Swayamm Foundation in collaboration with the Voice of People Foundation in Mumbai.

Dr. Nilesh Pawaskar at the special workshop organised by Swayamm Foundation in collaboration with the Voice of People Foundation in Mumbai.  

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CSWs often booked for obscene act, but law does not define it: Dr. Nilesh Pawaskar

Special public prosecutor Dr. Nilesh Pawaskar recently held a special workshop to educate commercial sex workers (CSWs) from across Mumbai on laws related to prostitution and shared tips on how to avoid exploitation by policemen.

The lecture was a part of a Christmas celebration conducted by non-government organisation Swayamm Foundation in collaboration with the Voice of People Foundation.

The women, Dr. Pawaskar claimed, face constant harassment from police because of their work and are unable to complain as they are not aware about the laws.

Many a time, police harass sex workers who stand along the roadside during their work hours. The workers are fined under the Maharashtra Police Act and charged with performing obscene acts. But the law does not define what the obscene acts are, Dr. Pawsakar said.

He said the harassment comes because of their work, not because of the law. “If two people have consensual sex, it is not an offence. For that purpose, what they take or give is nobody’s business, including the government. So what the police do practically does not fit in any offence,” he said.

Dr. Pawaskar encouraged the audience to question the police and capture the injustice on video camera when they are fined. He also urged them never to hand over their money to officials without demanding a receipt. The sex workers, he said, have a complete right to file a first information report against the personnel in a police station.

“Morally and legally speaking, to some extent, prostitution is an offence. However, if somebody is doing it for their livelihood then it is not an offence. It becomes illegal when somebody coerces someone into this business. For example, brothel owners, premise owners, pimps, etc. are offenders,” Dr. Pawaskar said.

Dr. Pawaskar also said prostitution should be legalised. Once this is done, workers will be entitled to legal provisions such as healthcare and education for themselves as well as children who are born out of this business, he said. “These children grow up uneducated and end up working for this industry as pimps.”

A Christmas celebration that followed the talk saw 43 sex workers and their children from Mumbai participating in various activities, performances and games. Dnyanesh Mawle, a member and advisor of Akhil Bhartiya Andhshraddha Nirmoolan Samiti, a non-government organisation that works on blind faith eradication, was also present at the event.

Mr. Mawle spoke of busting spiritual myths by demonstrating acts of black magic explained through science and logic. He explained that many people fall prey to these superstitions and crooks end up earning money from this business.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 12:31:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/lawyer-educates-sex-workers-on-how-to-avoid-harassment-by-police/article30398742.ece

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