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Displaced Goa sex workers to get compensation

Posted on Jan 11, 01:59PM | IBNS

In what could be a huge relief for 900-odd commercial sex workers who struggled to get compensation from the state government after being displaced during the Baina demolition in 2004, High Court of Bombay at Goa has directed the government to implement the State Rehabilitation Scheme in six months. A division bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice U V Bakre passed this order while disposing of a writ petition filed by Anyay Rahit Zindagi (ARZ) seeking the Court's intervention to facilitate rehabilitation package to the affected people. "The government/authorities shall complete the proceedings of granting benefits and making payment to the applicants within six months from the date on which documents are produced before them in case they are found to be eligible," reads the order. ARZ, an organization working towards the protection of human rights and combating human trafficking, had moved the High Court after the government failed to implement the notified rehabilitation scheme for the sex workers and 3000 persons whose houses and commercial establishments, not involved in the flesh trade, were also demolished. "Even though thousands of affected people applied under the scheme, not a single person was provided benefit. Various petitions were made to various authorities but there was no response," petitioner ARZ Director Arun Pandey said. Under the scheme, the displaced sex workers were made eligible for monetary benefits and rehabilitation package while commercial establishments and residential complexes were to get alternative premises. Several hundred cubicles in the red-light area at Baina beach, a place to scout commercial sex worker, saw a drastic change when these structures were bulldozed in the midst of heavy rain on June 14, 2004 after High Court order. Several bulldozers and thousands of policemen ensured the area is 'cleansed' from prostitution activity. The demolition rendered victims of commercial sexual exploitation, homeless and without any livelihood alternative. A large number of residential houses and commercial establishments which were not involved in prostitution activity were also razed. The High Court directions to the state were to control trafficking and to rehabilitate the victims of trafficking. The government, in 2005, had drawn the rehabilitation scheme for the people affected with the demolition but none were compensated or rehabilitated.