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Delay in rehabilitation scheme for transgenders, sex workers

The state’s rehabilitation proposal is yet to be fully approved, and will currently be implemented in select districts on pilot basis

The largely ignored communities of commercial sex workers (CSW) and transgenders took a significant leap forward this year, as several of them voted for the first time in their lives during the Lok Sabha polls. But, it looks like they will have to wait longer
for other basic rights, as the state’s proposed rehabilitation scheme is yet to be fully formed or approved.

CSW communities
Out of focus: The transgender and CSW communities have remained largely ignored in the past, but the rehabilitation scheme could significantly help with their integration into mainstream society. File pic for representation

Until then, the state Women and Child Welfare (WCW) department will implement a few rehabilitation programmes in Solapur and Kolhapur on a pilot basis, starting with an education enrolment camp for both communities in Solapur from today.

However, officials and volunteers at the NGO, Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR), have emphasised that there is an urgent need to implement the rehabilitation scheme in Pune on priority basis because of the large numbers of sex workers and transgenders in the city. CFAR is working with the state to formulate and implement the ambitious scheme.

“The groundwork to bring sex workers and transgenders into the mainstream was never done in Pune. The city has one of the largest red light areas in the state. But, whatever rehabilitation efforts have been made so far are not sufficient,” said Anand Bakhade, CFAR’s project coordinator.

He added that volunteers are ready to begin work in Pune, but the prerogative to implement the scheme lies with the state government.

So far, only private organisations were working towards the social inclusion of the deprived communities, Bakhade said. “The government should introduce various schemes in this regard, but, unfortunately, government schemes are always delayed,” he said.

According to the officials
in the WCW department, the state government announced a new scheme in the third draft of its women’s policy. “Since then, we have conducted a few meetings with district collectors across the state to discuss how the scheme can be effectively implemented,” said Officer on Special Duty (WCW), Pramod Nikalje, adding further, “however, the concept of rehabilitation is very vast and doesn’t stop at just giving jobs. Proper educational and medical facilities are just as important.”

The state intends to cover several important needs of the communities in its scheme, including basic documentation, medical, educational and employment assistance, and redressal forums for complaints against discrimination.

Nikalje added that the process would be ongoing, and would be implemented one by one in various districts.

“The guidelines for the implementation of the scheme have already been circulated to all the district collectors,” Nikalje told this paper.

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