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SAGA CORNER

Sex workers and transgender want representation in panels

The All India Network of Sex Workers (AINSW) has suggested inclusion of representatives from sex workers and transgender communities in the District Anti-Trafficking Committees as proposed in the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016. Trafficking of Person’s (Prevention, Protection & Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016 has been proposed to prevent trafficking of persons and to provide protection and rehabilitation to the victims of trafficking so as to create legal, social and economic environment against trafficking of persons. However the Bill should clearly demonstrate the legal and social connotations of the words ‘trafficking’ and ‘sex work’.

Under Chapter II of the Bill, where clauses concerning District Anti-Trafficking Committee has been discussed, alongside District Magistrate, District Judge and representative from DLSA there should be a representative from the sex workers organization as well for better representation. Similarly, at the State Anti-Trafficking Committee representation of neither sex workers nor transgender community has been thought about.

In a statement issued by Kusum, president of AINSW has said that Self Regulatory Board (SRB) and its success stands testimony to the fact that it has been an exemplary model in prevention of trafficking in sex trade, hence our suggestions would be to implement a similar model at local & district level which can work in tandem with District and State Anti-Trafficking Committee. Supreme Court Panel recommended similar suggestions. AINSW and its partner can highly be obliged to produce their services to develop this model to prevent trafficking in Sex Work.

As Under Chapter VI, specifications of Protection Homes and Special Homes have been mentioned, but our opinion is that no more than 1 week of shelter in Protection homes and a maximum of 3 months in Special homes should be provided, Ms Kusum has said. Post such shelter facility vocational and skill development training opportunities maybe facilitated when victims of trafficking can reside with her family (children, in law) and be engaged in other occupations of their choice.   

Chapter VII focuses on rehabilitation and social integration. But there is no clear cut definition anywhere of the term ‘sex work’ and how it is different from trafficking asks Geeta Dutta, General Secretary of AINSW. Those women who are by choice in this profession of sex work should be adequately safeguarded, legally and socially protected against adverse situations, harassment and violence of any sort, she added.

“”We are in absolute support of protection of identity and confidentiality of social or electronic media disclosure of such victims of trafficking as mentioned in Chapter IX, Clause 15.

Those involved in Special Courts, Judges and lawyers should be provided adequate orientation program involving representatives from sex workers and transgender community so that they are in a position to differentiate between sex workers and trafficked victims. Also, in case of Special Public Prosecutor similar orientation program may be arranged, Dr Jana, Chief Advisor of AINSW added.

One who is forcefully kept in any house or brothel is in a different position legally, who should be rescued and legal intervention is of paramount significance in such a case but any such woman or a group of women who by their choice reside in a house or a brothel as a collective of sex workers should be legally protected against any kind of harassment or exploitation, also law should clarify their legal status as opposed to brothel owners.  They may be a part of any Cooperative or Self Help Group to form a collective so as to safeguard their rights as social individuals and they could negotiate in police led harassment and with clients effectively.

The Bill should clearly state that sex work by choice is a profession and any act of trafficking is an illegal step.”

By TIS Staffer
the authorBy TIS Staffer

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