‘Anti-trafficking Bill is merely anti sex-workers’

November 2, 2016

By Express News Service  |   Published: 06th October 2016 07:22 AM  |

Last Updated: 06th October 2016 09:05 AM

HYDERABAD: While the Ministry of Women and Child Development is currently working on the Ninth draft of the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016, a group of sex workers from Telangana, AP, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were deliberating its provisions at a hotel in Hyderabad.

Over 50 women from various Sex Worker Collectives from across the state gathered to discuss how the bill, though drafted for the community’s benefit, does not help them in anyway. The day-long consultation was organised by the All India Network of Sex Workers (AINSW).

Jayammma, member of AINSW, who has been working with the community mainly in the prevention of second generation entry into the profession said, “The Bill has been drafted without consulting any of the community members. According to them, all sex workers are trafficked victims but there are a few of us who have taken up the profession because we have no other choice.”

Community members also pointed that trafficked victims are not just engaged in sex work but are forced into child labour, begging etc. “They are dangerous business but the bill focuses solely on sex workers,” she added.

Chaitra, a trans sex worker from Karnataka, and member of Ashodaya, an organisation that works with trans persons and also sex workers, pointed that rehabilitation, which forms the major part of the bill, is not in favour of the community.

“We are not against the system but the provisions for rehabilitation is nothing but institutionalisation and victim detention. That does not serve a purpose. We want to work with the system, not just with regard to sex workers community, but also others,” said Chaitra.

The consultation was conducted in partnership with Crea, a human rights organisation, Centre for Advocacy and Research and Lawyers Collective.

Meanwhile, Tripti Tandon from the Lawyers Collective who was present to share details of the bill said, “It is funny that the government is seeking consultations from members of the corporate sector but not the community,” she said.

She also pointed to a provision in the bill that lists out places of exploitation. “It is loosely defined. If a group of sex workers are travelling in a bus, they will be considered as trafficked or likely to be trafficked,” she said.

Community members will hold a national level consultation in November, before the Winter Parliament Session.