Consensus eludes panel on prostitution

PUBLISHED IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

NEW DELHI: Sharp differences on the issue of legalizing sex work continued to nettle experts in the Supreme Court appointed panel established to recommend changes in the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA). The experts on Saturday held lengthy discussions on issues of rehabilitation of workers, loopholes in the act and its impact on the lives of sex workers. The panel is expected to put forward recommendations on the act soon.

09_11_2014_016_012However the war of words has already spilled out on the street after the National Commission for Women chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam advocated legalising sex work to regulate trade and ensure better living conditions for women engaged in commercial sex work. Legalizing the trade, she said, would bring down trafficking in women and lower the incidence of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. While sex workers’ unions have expressed their support for this view citing it as a way forward in decriminalizing the trade, women rights activists have opposed it vehemently. They contend that the move will only push up trade and encourage incidence of trafficking.

Sex workers unions—estimated to be 3 million strong—say that this is the only way forward for the community that has long been marginalized. This was also the only way to break the unholy nexus between police-trafficker-pimp in exploiting the poor.

Supreme Court lawyer and Shakti Vahini president Ravi Kant had opposed the move describing trafficking and sexual slavery as the worst form of human rights violation. “No women joins this inhuman trade out of choice. More then 95% of the women have been trafficked and forced into the sex trade,” he said.

Women’s rights organizations including All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) said there was need for more consultations. “Special steps must be taken to ensure that their basic human rights are safeguarded and better livelihood options for women should be provided as a means of preventing their entry into prostitution,” Sudha Sundararaman from AIDWA said.

 

Advertisements

Shakti Vahini opposes and condemns the National Commission for Women Chief statement on Legalisation of Prostitution

NCW

New Delhi October 28, 2014 : Shakti Vahini Press Release

Prostitution is Organised Crime and Violation of Fundamental Rights. Trafficking and sexual slavery is worst form of Human Rights Violation. No women joins this inhuman trade out of choice. More then 95% of the women have been trafficked and forced into the sex trade.Immoral Traffic Prevention Act 1956 criminalises the organised crime of Prostitution.Organised Prostitution creates a demand for young girls for the brothels which is met by trafficking of minor girls from across the Country. .Giving Prostitution a legal status will be giving boost to demand of young minor girls who will be trafficked. In countries where such legalization has happened it has led to exploitation of women and girls and also commodification of women bodies.

There is no doubt that women who have been caught in the sex trade “need access to all Government facilities and schemes and efforts must be made to see that they join the mainstream and are properly rehabilitated. Also those who indulge in this organised crime of human trafficking which leads to kidnapping of young girls from across the country need to be properly punished”.

The sad part is that inspite of various recommendations from the Supreme Court in various cases no geniune efforts have been made by any Government to see that this social malice which results from Organised Crime be eradicated. The statement of the National Commission for Women Chairperson for legalising prostitution is deplorable.
It is time that the Government of India ammends the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act and brings in harsher punishments to the people who are involved in this organised crime.

NCW Chiefs Remarks on Legalization of Prostitution is deplorable

NCW Chiefs Remarks on Legalization of Prostitution is deplorable

The Supreme Court on July 26,2012 had clarified ” The Supreme Court today modified one of its order on welfare and rehabilitation of sex workers on the Centre’s submissions that the last year’s order gave an impression that it seeks to legalize prostitution. Allaying the Centre’s fears that it was giving its seal of approval to prostitution, a special bench of justices Altamas Kabir and Gyan Sudha Misra modified its earlier order, saying “the modification shall not be construed that by this order any encouragement is being given to prostitution.” Modifying its earlier order, the bench clarified that it would only examine the “conditions conducive for sex workers to work with dignity in accordance with provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution.”

The bench stated that it was keen that sex workers should be given opportunity to avail rehabilitation measures of the government and other agencies for them. While adjudicating a petition for rehabilitation of former sex workers, the apex court had on July 19, 2011 framed three terms of reference. Appointing a broad-based panel to look into the matter, the apex court by its July 2011 order had formulated three questions related to prevention of trafficking, rehabilitation of sex workers who wish to leave the sex work and “conditions conducive for sex workers who wish to continue working as sex workers with dignity.”

On the Centre’s submission that the third term gave an impression that prostitution has been sought to be legalised, the apex court modified it to read as “conducive for sex workers to live with dignity in accordance with the provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution”. “The above modification shall not be construed that by this order any encouragement is being given to prostitution,” the bench added. Justice Sudha had also observed, “While we do not wish to encourage sex trade we would emphasise rehabilitation of sex workers for which we had taken the issue. “We wish to add although the sex workers have right to live with dignity. There has to be collective endeavours by courts and sex workers to give up flesh trade in case they are given alternative platform on employment.”

The Supreme Court in its order dated July 26, 2012 in Budhadev Karmaskar vs State of West Bengal (Criminal Appeal 135 of 2010 ) had clarified:

While concurring with the views of my learned brother Justice Altamas Kabir, I prefer to add in regard to the second issue that this Court should not be misunderstood to encourage the practice of flesh trade or advocate the recognition of sex trade merely because it has raised the issue to emphasize the rehabilitation aspect of the sex workers, for which this Court had taken the initiative right at the threshold. I consider this essential in order to allay any apprehension which prompted the Union of India to move this application for modification, by highlighting that the sex workers although have a right to live with dignity as the society is aware that they are forced to continue with this trade under compulsions since they have no alternative source of livelihood, collective endeavour should be there on the part of the Court and all concerned who have joined this cause as also the sex workers themselves to give up this heinous profession of flesh trade by providing the destitute and physically abused women an alternative forum for employment and resettlement in order to be able to rehabilitate themselves. I, therefore, wish to reiterate by way of abundant caution that this Court should not be perceived to advocate the recognition of sex trade or promote the cause of prostitution in any form and manner even when it had stated earlier in its terms of reference ‘regarding conditions conducive for sex workers who wish to continue working as sex workers with dignity’.

Thus, when we modify the earlier term of reference and state regarding conditions conducive for sex workers to live with dignity in accordance with the provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution, the same may not be interpreted or construed so as to create an impression or draw inference that this Court in any way is encouraging the sex workers to continue with their profession of flesh trade by providing facilities to them when it is merely making an effort to advocate the cause of offering an alternative source of employment to those sex workers who are keen for rehabilitation. When we say ‘conditions conducive for sex workers to live with dignity’, we unambiguously wish to convey that while the sex workers may be provided alternative source of employment for their rehabilitation to live life with dignity, it will have to be understood in the right perspective as we cannot direct the Union of India or the State Authorities to provide facilities to those sex workers who wish to promote their profession of sex trade for earning their livelihood, except of course the basic amenities for a dignified life, as this was certainly not the intention of this Court even when the term of reference was framed earlier.

We, therefore, wish to be understood that we confine ourselves to the efforts for rehabilitation of sex workers which should not be construed as facilitating, providing them assistance or creating conducive conditions to carry on flesh trade for expanding their business in any manner as it cannot be denied that the profession of sex trade is a slur on the dignity of women. Conditions conducive for sex workers to live with dignity in accordance with the provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution be therefore understood in its correct perspective as indicated above.

Delhi has no rules in place to care for trafficked victims

SHAKTI VAHINI

PUBLISHED IN THE HINDU

Last November, the Delhi Government had submitted before the Delhi High Court that within eight weeks it would notify minimum standards of care and protection for trafficked victims. Nearly six months have gone by and despite many such cases being reported since, the notification is yet to see the light of the day.

Prior to this, expressing its displeasure over a Nepalese girl being forced to go back to the place from where she was rescued, the High Court had sent a notice to the State government asking for suggestions in this regard.

The notice was one in a series of many issued by the court, which took a suo motu of a report published in The Hindu in May 2013 about a girl trafficked from West Bengal and pushed into prostitution in the Capital. The Nepalese girl, too, was rescued around the same time and by the same NGO Shakti Vahini. She was later set free by a Delhi court, but went back to the brothel “because she had nowhere else to go and there was no institutional mechanism in place to take care of her”.

Since Delhi does not have any guidelines on the care and protection of victims, especially post their rescue, the court directed that it should adopt the ones framed by the Andhra Pradesh Government a few years ago. The Andhra Pradesh guidelines deal extensively with all aspects of standards of care be it accountability, legal aid, monitoring, benefits provided, restoration, diet and even infrastructure facilities available at care homes.

It was on November 27 that the Standing Counsel for the State Government Zubeda Begum informed the court about the eight-week deadline for taking into account the guidelines issued by the Southern State. She added that Delhi would also incorporate some additional features.

Six months on, the guidelines have not been notified. In response to The Hindu ’s question about the current status of the notification, a senior Delhi Government official said the draft has been prepared. On the delay, she said conditions in Andhra Pradesh were different from those in the Capital and hence they have made some changes.

The official, however, did not divulge what those changes were and what additional measures are there in the proposed Delhi guidelines.

Furthermore, the official said they were still in the process of building consensus on the draft. A meeting between all those providing institutional services is scheduled later this month. “Once notified, it becomes very difficult to make amendments. That is why we are taking our time,” she said.

64 women rescued from GB Road brothels in 38 raids, only 16 FIRs filed

GB Road Rescue

PUBLISHED IN THE INDIAN EXPRESS

Delhi Police carried out 23 raids on brothels on GB Road in 2012, rescuing 49 women and 10 raids in 2013, rescuing 15 women, the police said in an affidavit filed before the High Court last week.

But a closer look reveals that in the 23 raids, only 10 FIRs were filed. In the 10 raids this year, only six FIRs have been registered.

The affidavit was filed before a Bench of Acting Chief Justice B D Ahmad and Justice Vibhu Bakhru after a court direction in July seeking an explanation from police for not registering FIRs.

Police stated in the affidavit that FIRs were not registered in several cases as the women rescued were older than 18 years and that many claimed to be staying in the brothel of their own will.

In its affidavit filed through the ACP of Kamla Market, police said many of the rescued women had refused to register any complaint of rape or prostitution and, therefore, FIRs could not be registered.

Further, the affidavit stated that two of the women “rescued” in April this year had been “rescued” in previous raids but had returned to GB Road following their release.

Besides, police claimed that since as FIRs had already been registered in the native places from where the women had gone missing, they cannot file a second FIR for the same. “When an FIR for kidnapping or a missing person report is already lodged in their native places, then we cannot register a second case on the same issue. The crime started at the place where the women were kidnapped and FIRs already exist there,” DCP (Central Delhi) Alok Kumar said.

The women who were rescued belonged to Nepal, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar. A large number of them were from 24-Parganas district in West Bengal. Police said most of them had been sent back.

The High Court in May this year had taken suo motu cognisance of the issue after media reports that a Nepali girl rescued from a brothel had been intimidated by its owners during a hearing in a metropolitan magistrate’s court.

On July 10, the court had sought a report from police on action taken after the rescue operations after NGO Shakti Vahini told the court that police had filed the FIR in the case a week after rescuing her. The NGO also alleged FIRs were not being filed in a large number of cases.

Advocate Ravi Kant of NGO Shakti Vahini argued that police did not take into account the mental state of the girls who had been rescued. “Most are threatened, tortured and brainwashed. They don’t trust the police or the courts. It is only after days of counselling that the true story emerges,” he said.

ABUSED CONFINED AND FORGOTTEN BY SOCIETY

1index.phpPUBLISHED IN THE HINDU  – BINDU SHAJAN PERAPPADAN

Almost all the 3,500-odd sex workers confined to the 96 brothels in the Capital’s red-light area on Shraddhanand Marg – earlier referred to as G.B. Road – have a tale of exploitation and human rights abuses to narrate.

The government and the police are far from taking action against brothel owners. The sex workers say they are “treated as the Capital’s shame – brushed under the carpet, only to be remembered when required”.

“Poverty and the promise of a decent life for our children keeps us here,” says Savitri at a government-aided health care centre in Lahori Gate.

She and a group of other workers came to the centre at 4.30 p.m., previously an impossible time for the women to be out of the brothels.

“Four o’ clock onwards clients start coming in, but these days the steep price rise has hit the business hard. This is the first time in 10 years that I haven’t had a customer in four days,” says a nervous-looking Mamta (36). She came to Delhi from Andhra Pradesh a decade ago and has three daughters and elderly parents to support back home.

“I am a mother of three young girls who I have left behind in Andhra Pradesh with my old parents. I know how ruthless life can be. Life here on G.B. Road is only about making money,” she says.

Lata came to Delhi when she was only five years old and was pushed into the flesh trade at the young age of 11. She has no hope of things changing for the better any time soon. “During elections, politicians and parties of all colour and shape come to meet us promising the world and more. We are forgotten immediately after the circus is over,” quips the 48-year-old.

Lata is angry that the violence and torture sex workers are subjected to and the lives they are forced to lead go unnoticed. “The sex workers and their children here have no rights. Be it access to nutritious and assured supply of food, security (financial/physical), education and health care facilities, crèche for our children, schools or playground, none is available. There are no fixed working hours and social interaction with the outside world is almost non-existent. We are discriminated against on the grounds of our profession.”

“We are confined to our rooms for years at a stretch. We are not allowed to step out even to see a doctor. It is only when the brothel owners are sure that we have nowhere else to go that they allow us out. Where have the law, politicians and police been all these years?” Lata asks.

Today she lives on the streets after being thrown out by her brothel owner. “I am old now and don’t bring in any business,” she says. “Now I have no rights as a worker or as a human being. Worse, I have no social security. Sex trade is a reality and because it is not legalised we are exploited at all levels.”

Sex workers across the country have long been demanding that their trade be legalised so that the women can have better quality of life.

Khairati Lal Bhola (85) of the Bhartiya Patita Uddhar Sabha, a non-government organisation that works with sex workers across the country, says: “There are 1,100 red light areas in India and 23 lakh sex workers with 54 lakh children living there. The income of these sex workers is shared by kothamalins , touts, police and others in the system. The sex worker gets only 25 per cent of her income and that too is often spent on medical treatment and rations. Almost all of them lead a hand-to-mouth existence. If sex trade is legalised, then there can be a greater chance for these women to earn more.”

Previously, the Supreme Court constituted a committee of legal experts to look into the cause of sex trade and suggest ways to bring this population into the national mainstream. “So far there has been no concrete outcome from this group,” Mr. Bhola says.

He says commercial sexual exploitation today is not purely brothel-based but has spread everywhere – residential areas, hotels and clubs. “With the advancement of technologies and changing global scenario, sex trade has emerged in diverse forms.”

Rishi Kant of non-government organisation Shakti Vahini, which works in the area of anti-trafficking, said: “The steep rise in human trafficking is because of several social factors including poverty, illiteracy, natural calamities and rapid globalisation. Human trafficking works strictly on demand and supply and is a basket of crime which violates several laws and rights. Currently there is no authentic database for human trafficking and it continues to be difficult to ascertain how many women are affected. Also corruption and strong inter-State/country network of suppliers and demand makes the circle very vicious and unbreakable for women.”

With the Delhi High Court stepping in earlier this week and seeking “information on the number of rescue operations undertaken, the total number of girls rescued and how many FIRs have been lodged so far,” many believe things will change while others remain sceptical. Mamta says: “I truly hope that the direction to the Delhi Police to also take action against those not registering FIRs following rescue of girls would bring about a real change.”

We are not encouraging sex workers, Supreme Court clarifies

NATIONAL LEGAL RESEARCH DESK

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today modified one of its order on welfare and rehabilitation of sex workers on the Centre’s submissions that the last year’s order gave an impression that it seeks to legalize prostitution. Allaying the Centre’s fears that it was giving its seal of approval to prostitution, a special bench of justices Altamas Kabir and Gyan Sudha Misra modified its earlier order, saying “the modification shall not be construed that by this order any encouragement is being given to prostitution.”

Modifying its earlier order, the bench clarified that it would only examine the “conditions conducive for sex workers to work with dignity in accordance with provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution.” It added it was keen that sex workers should be given opportunity to avail rehabilitation measures of the government and other agencies for them.While adjudicating a petition for rehabilitation of former sex workers, the apex court had on July 19, 2011 framed three terms of reference.

Appointing a broad-based panel to look into the matter, the apex court by its July 2011 order had formulated three questions related to prevention of trafficking, rehabilitation of sex workers who wish to leave the sex work and “conditions conducive for sex workers who wish to continue working as sex workers with dignity.”On the Centre’s submission that the third term gave an impression that prostitution has been sought to be legalised, the apex court modified it to read as “conducive for sex workers to live with dignity in accordance with the provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution”.

“The above modification shall not be construed that by this order any encouragement is being given to prostitution,” the bench added. Justice Sudha also observed, “While we do not wish to encourage sex trade we would emphasise rehabilitation of sex workers for which we had taken the issue. “We wish to add although the sex workers have right to live with dignity. There has to be collective endeavours by courts and sex workers to give up flesh trade in case they are given alternative platform on employment.”

Demand, supply of illicit sex up in State

Flesh trade is thriving in the City of Lakes. Women soliciting clients openly are a common sight in some of the busiest places of the State capital.

THE DAILY PIONEER , BHOPAL

Besides, a large number of sex rackets are being run in almost all the posh and well-to-do localities. The practice takes place in an organised manner with the connivance of hotel owners, security personnel and male and female agents. Places like farmhouses, beauty parlours and independent homes in newly built colonies are often used for the purpose. Not only Indians but also westerners are provided to clients. They are available on demand besides television and B movie actresses. The price, however, differs, depending on the service and the attributes of the one providing it.When contacted, Superintendent of Police Abhay Singh, however, said the matter was new to him. However, he assured that action would be taken soon. If one goes to Hamidia Road, one of the busiest places in Walled City, in the evening, they will surely encounter prostitutes waiting on the stretch between Nadira Bus Stand and Bharat Talkies over-bridge. Same is the case in New Bhopal where these women are easily spotted on link roads and near Habibganj station. A pimp, talking on condition of anonymity, revealed the elaborate workings of the illicit business. According to him, the flesh trade prospers courtesy the joint efforts of ‘representatives’ like auto-rickshaw drivers, betel shop owners and dope addicts looking for easy money. Hotels play an important role as these provide cheaper rooms on hourly basis to clients. Women from Mumbai are thronging the State capital after the dance bars were closed in Optimum City. Besides, girls in large numbers from smaller towns nearby also travel up and down to the State capital for this purpose. According to sources, about a dozen sex rackets are run in various parts of the city and have an excess of hundreds of girls under them.

The most unfortunate trend in the city is that of school and college going boys joining the queue of clients who are mostly easy-moneyed people. As intimated by a female sex worker operating in the city area, even boys in school uniforms vie for a chance to engage in this activity. The spread of mobile telephones has facilitated the prostitute who can now satisfy a maximum number of clients in minimum time. Their daily earnings have thus risen nowadays. This, in turn increases, the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and the spread of HIV/AIDS.