Tag Archive for Delhi Women’s Commission

Delhi women’s commission head changes tune on sex work, says she is open to legalization

sex-workers-India

By Team FI
A meeting with National Network of Sex Workers and other organisations has resulted in DCW Chair Swati Maliwal accepting that she supports legislation of sex work. Though offering no apology, she said she was open to a consultative process with sex workers and NGOs working with them.

Following a statement submitted to the government by the National Network of Sex Workers (NNSW) and other organisations condemning the DCW’s chairperson Swati Maliwal comment on sex work being akin to ‘rape’, a meeting was arranged with DCW and members of the NNSW and other women’s organisation on August 6, 2015.

As per the NNSW, Swati Maliwal listened to their grievances and gave an explanation as to what prompted her statement. Maliwal stated that during her time spent at GB Road, Delhi, she had met with sex workers and NGO’s working in the area, she had been told by sex workers about their ‘ ‘plight’ as to how they had to sell ‘their bodies’ for rs. 50. She said many young girls aged 12- 13 are in a bad condition. Even older women have mental health issues. Maliwal said the women asked for “help and rehabilitation”.”

NNSW stated that they explained how sex workers who come from various states in India, join the profession “their own volition”. They stated that NNSW “believe sex work is work, that they advocate for safe working conditions for all sex workers and that they were against rehabilitation unless it was voluntary. “ NNSW pointed out the forced evictions in the name of rehabilitation in GB road.

As per the meeting minutes, “The network further clarified that women in sex work do not sell their bodies but only provide sexual services for money. NNSW said that one must visit GB road with a non moralistic perspective if one wants to help the women in sex work there. NNSW told her about the sex workers collectives and how powerful they are in working against trafficking and on decreasing HIV and AIDS in the country. The collectives also work on anti-trafficking and the best to discuss solutions to the problem of trafficking.”

The Chair, DCW stated that there is a need to understand decriminalization vs legalization debate and said that she is open to legalization and hold consultations with the NNSW. “There was a conversation with Sakina from UKMO, an NNSW member from Karnataka – “What if you get 1 lakh in other job do you want to continue with sex work?”. Sakina told her about dignity of earning her own living by her own means and explained how empowered she is and that she believes that like doctors and engineers she is also proud of the work she does,” states the notes from the meeting.

Though there was no apology, Maliwal indicated that she would like to start a pilot project in GB Road, and there would be no forced rehabilitation

The project would provide sex workers with alternative means of livelihood and would provide them with an income equivalent if not more than what they earn now.

NNSW states that they “told her what happens in Delhi impacts other parts of India. So we look forward to things and any negative thing can impact the lives of lakhs of sex workers”.

Delhi Women’s Commission head compares sex work with rape, sex workers groups protest

swati-maliwal

The National Network of Sex Workers and women’s organisations in India have strongly condemned Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), chairperson Swati Maliwal’s comment that sex work is akin to “rape” and needed to be eradicated. The sex workers organizations, in a statement released to the media, have demaned that Maliwal should retract her statement. They have also asked for an unconditional apology from Maliwal.

Following is the full text of the statement:
The National Network of Sex Workers and women’s organisations in India strongly condemn the observations and statement of Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), Ms. Swati Maliwal calling sex work and prostitution akin to “rape” and calling for its “eradication”. We call on her to immediately withdraw her statement and tender an unconditional apology to the all women in sex work, whose dignity has been impacted by her observations.

The Honorable Supreme Court has recognized the need to ensure that sex workers are able to live a life of dignity. The Court set up a panel to discuss “Conditions conducive for sex workers to live with dignity in accordance with the provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution.” (Budhadev Karmaskar vs. Government of West Bengal).

The Chairperson of DCW should do her homework before launching into a campaign that has not engaged with the ongoing debates and dialogues to recognize the rights of adult consenting workers to remain in sex work and ensure that their human rights and dignity are protected, such a short sighted and uninformed perspective demeans the office of a Commission set up to protect the rights and dignity of women.

How can Ms. Maliwal forget the immense contribution of the sex workers in reducing HIV transmission in this country? Today a large number of sex worker led organisations are leading the HIV response and doing invaluable peer based outreach and HIV prevention in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, National Aids Control Organisation, Government of India.

The remarks of the DCW chairperson that, the use of condoms is indicative of the extent of “rape being allowed in Delhi”; is blatantly uninformed and bigoted. Such uninformed statements from people in positions of authority have the effect of negatively impacting the HIV response. It is shocking that this statement comes from the Women’s commission at a time when women are fighting for recognition to the right to sexual health.

The United Nations, and various human rights organisations, activists globally and in India have called for an end to the conflation of trafficking and sex work, which criminalises and stigmatizes women in sex work. The Global Commission on HIV and Law calls on countries to “reform their approach towards sex work. Rather than punishing consenting adults involved in sex work, countries must ensure safe working conditions and offer sex workers and their clients access to effective HIV and health services and commodities… Take Complementary legal measures to ensure safe working conditions to sex workers.” And they must “take all measures to stop police harassment and violence against sex workers.’

The UN appointed Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women in her India report submitted to the UN General Assembly in April 2014 also called on the Government of India to review its approach towards sex workers and ensure that their human rights are protected.

At a time when human rights movements, UN, Governments and civil society is moving towards a more rights based approach to sex work, this statement of a Commission that is required to uphold the rights of dignity of women, is truly condemnable!

Signed
1. Ms. Kokila, President, NNSW Tamil Nadu
2. Ms. Bharati, Vice President, NNSW Karnataka
3. Ms. Alivelu, Secretary, NNSW Andhra Pradesh
4. Ms. Sangeetha, Joint Secretary, NNSW Maharashtra
5. Ms. Sakina, Treasurer, NNSW Karnataka
6. Ms. Mukta, NNSW Board Karnataka
7. Ms. Deepika, NNSW Board Karnataka
8. Ms. Balanagamma, NNSW Board Andhra Pradesh
9. Ms. Shanti, NNSW Board Tamil Nadu
10. Mr. Sudheer, NNSW Board Maharashtra
11. Ms. Chandalekha, NNSW Board (Kerala)
12. Ms. Meena Saraswathi Seshu, SANGRAM, Sangli, Maharashtra
13. Ms. Aarthi Pai, CASAM, SANGRAM, Maharashtra
14. Ms. Shyamala Nataraj, Tamil Nadu
15. Ms. Meera Raghavendra, WINS, Tirupathi
16. Ms. Indumathi Ravishankar, SIAAP, Tamil Nadu
17. Mr. Manohar Elavarthi, Sangama, Karnataka
18. Ms. Shabana Dastgir Gaundi, VAMP, Karnataka
19. Ms. Durga Pujari, VAMP Maharashtra
20. Mr. Rajendra Naik, Mitra, Maharashtra
21. Mr. Sudheer Patil, Muskan, Maharashtra
22. Ms. Susheela Kunde Bai, Vidrohi Mahila Manch, Maharashtra
23. Ms. Mukta, UKMO, Karnataka
24. Mr. Gurukiran, Karnataka
25. Ms. Rituparna Borah, Delhi
26. Ms. Asma, Tamil Nadu