Sex workers in city opted for NOTA

Sex workers in city opted for NOTA
Highlights

Sex workers in city opted for NOTA. Poonam Bai, a sex worker near City College, says, “What did we get after 67 years of Independence? We are still treated as if we are a baggage for the society.

The workers are miffed as no recommendations to improve the plight of sex workers was included in the manifestos of any political party

Poonam Bai, a sex worker near City College, says, “What did we get after 67 years of Independence? We are still treated as if we are a baggage for the society. Nobody cares for our welfare. What benefits have the government given us? I pressed None of the Above (NOTA) and we took a univocal decision to do so.”

As the 16th Parliamentary election goes through many phases, disparate groups across the country are voicing their dissent. And they are doing so with the important last button on the electronic voting machine.

“The politicians have turned a blind eye to our plight. Sex workers don’t figure on any political party’s manifesto. So why shouldn’t we press the NOTA button?” added Poonam Bai.

N Gopalaswami, former Chief Election Commissioner, says, “More people are likely to express their dissent because NOTA ensures secrecy. If you have the right to vote, you have the right to refuse (to vote) as well."

Suma (name changed) lives in the Vadder Basti near EFLU for 25 years and belongs to a poor family from Nizamabad. She has a grown-up son. She worries for her future as her son doesn’t want her to move in with him when he marries. Alone and ageing, Suma says she and many like her would end up on the streets.

“We must be given a pension,” she said.

Others join in to say they know nothing about government schemes and they can’t venture out for fear of the brothel owners.

A person becomes a prostitute not because she enjoys it but because of poverty. Society must have sympathy towards the sex workers and must not look down upon them. They are also entitled to a life of dignity in view of Article 21 of the Constitution.

“This is what courts have said. But our politicians can’t read this message loud and clear,” say a group of sex workers brightly dressed on the Necklace Road.

“6 per cent of sex workers are mothers. We need a law to regulate our work,” says Umraoobi.

According to All India Network of Sex Workers (AINSW) officials on the occasion of International Sex Workers Day on March 3, the organisation had sent a letter to all political parties containing plans and programmes for sex workers and an appeal to include some, if not all, in their manifestos.

"Nothing happened," Amit, coordinating officer of AINSW, said.

The AINSW letter placed a charter of demands including pension rights for retired sex workers, withdrawal of Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, legalisation of the profession and steps for providing proper education to children of sex workers.

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