Sex workers in Kolkata to boycott polls, demand recognition of their profession
Sex workers in Kolkata on Tuesday threatened to boycott the ongoing general election that is in its final stages, demanded removal of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA) and recognition of their profession by the establishments.
Kolkata will go to polls on May 12 in the last leg of the nine-phase mammoth elections.
ITPA act does not give the right to young men and women above the age of 18 to live with their parents or depend on them. Sex workers are hugely disappointed with the present Mamata Banerjee's government.
Director of Sex Worker Committee, Durbar Mahila Samanwaya, Purnima Chatterjee said ITPA act should be revoked and is highly objectionable.
"Children of many other families are doctors, engineers, lawyers and so on. We all are mothers as well, and we also wish that our children go ahead in life and become doctors or lawyers or government employees. But when our children attain the age of 18 they are not allowed to utilize our money, which is unfair. How did this act come into existence, we strongly disagree with this act" said she.
The sex workers in Sonagchi, which is among the country's largest red-light districts, were of the opinion that elections would make no difference to their lives. The government has not lived up to their tall promises and their profession has not been recognised.
Distressed sex workers said the politicians only show up during election time but forget about their grievances later.
Many sex workers are of the opinion that government establishments have failed to fulfill the commitments made towards them and as a result they have lost the will to vote.
"We want to boycott this year's elections, whenever the time to vote comes we go to every minister mainly to ask for our rights. Whenever we have voted the government has done nothing for our rights and welfare" said a sex worker Seema Bhogla in Sonagachi.
The sex workers have long been demanding revocation of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA) 1956 and recognition to their profession with benefits enjoyed by workers of unorganised sectors.
The Right to Information (RTI) centre was also set up by Durbar Mahila Samanwaya to help build a view and awareness among the sex workers.
In March this year, over 1,500 sex workers participated in a rally seeking recognition by the government and demanding that they be brought under the government pension scheme
(Posted on 07-05-2014)