01/07/08

Recognize sexwork as legitimate work

Recognize sexwork as legitimate work
Criminalizing sexworkers or clients is counter productive
National Day of Action1st JULY 2008 (Tuesday),
Bangalore
Don't destroy the livelihood of Sexworkers by criminalizing their clients
Drop Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act amendment process Immediately
Karnataka State Coalition Against ITPA(Constituent Organizations: Aneka, Ashodaya Samithi, Jyothi Mahila Sangha,Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum, Karnataka Sexworkers Union, LesBiT,Samara, Sangama, Sangram, Suraksha, Swathi Mahila Sangha, Veshya AnyayMukthi Parishad, Vijaya Mahila Sangha) invites you to the 3 PM PUBLIC RALLY from Chikka Lalbagh (Majestic) to Mysore BankCircle 5 PM PUBLIC MEETING at Mysore Bank CircleSitamarhi, Bihar: Mob attacks sexworkers and burns down 250 houses infront of policeCalicut, Kerala: Sexworkers evicted from their homes and their housesburnt by the cadres of the ruling partyChannapattana, Karnataka: Goondas (supported by police) brutally attacksexworkers who had gathered to peacefully demonstrate for rightsDelhi: Police forcibly pick up 70 adult sexworkers in Delhi, in grossviolation of their basic rights and detain them in jails and protectivehomes of Andhra Pradesh, under the guise of rescuing/ helping/ reformingsexworkersThese are not isolated incidents but witness to the growing intoleranceand prejudice against sexworkers. Sexworkers face constant policeviolence, goonda violence and extreme social rejection. Hounded by thegoondas and constantly harassed by the police, sexworkers are in danger ofnot only getting marginalized but also becoming far more vulnerable toHIV-AIDS. As sexworkers are forced to run from street to street, adoptingsafer sex practices, accessing health care services or even using condomsbecomes almost impossible in spite of their best efforts to save theirlives. As a large part of their earnings go to police, goondas and theGovernment (as court fines), they are forced to work long hours, servemore clients and often put themselves at risk. Constantly they are coercedto compromise with everyone because of the fear of false cases beingfoisted on them, as well as being insulted and humiliated in public anddenied even basic dignity and respect.The Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA) criminalizes most aspects ofsexwork by equating 'voluntary adult sexwork' with trafficking.Trafficking - the business of forcing children and adults against theirwill into various forms of work including sexwork, is totally unacceptableto us. Sexworkers have been struggling against the unfairness in ITPA.Police make use of ITPA to harass, abuse and extort money from sexworkersmost of who are disadvantaged in many waysTo make matters worse the Central Government has proposed to amend theITPA to punish the clients of sexworkers. The logic behind the move issupposedly to prevent trafficking of people into sexwork by reducingdemand for sexwork. There is enough evidence from numerous countries thatcriminalizing clients of sexworkers doesn't help in combating traffickingbut only pushes sexwork underground making sexworkers more vulnerable toviolence and HIV infection. The Central Government is planning to go aheadwith this in spite of protests from sexworkers and human rights activistsfor the last few years. This process will deny sexworkers basic right forsurvival and livelihood. In a democracy, the government must duly consultall concerned and affected people before amending any law. But the Uniongovernment has been ignoring the voices of the sexworkers in the ITPAamendment process. The role of the government should be to enable sexworkers to access their social entitlements and rights.Sexworkers have broken their long silence. They have been forming theirown organizations, strengthening their communities, engaging with thesociety at large and supporting Governmental efforts in combatingHIV-AIDS. They have been extending solidarity and support to the strugglesof various marginalized people including women, dalits, adivasis,minorities, the poor, workers and others.We request all citizens to join hands with us to demand that thegovernment drop the ITPA amendment process immediately.

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