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Not a single transgender or sex worker registered among new voters in Pune

While 3.04 lakh new voters registered recently, these two communities have not found any representation amongst them

While the district administration is going all out to make sure that no one is denied his/her right to vote in the upcoming assembly polls by organising voter registration drives and taking steps to encourage voting, transgenders and sex workers don’t seem to be getting much attention. While 3.04 lakh new voters from Pune have enrolled in two recent drives, not a single member from these communities is among them.

Activist
What changed? Activists say the awareness campaigns among the communities allegedly stopped after the Lok Sabha elections. Representation pic

This is in marked contrast to the drives before the Lok Sabha elections, which had seen many transgenders and sex workers signing up to exercise their franchise. While one registration drive was conducted on May 29, the other began on August 1 and is still on.

Panna Gabriel from NGO Ashirwad, which works for the rights of transgenders, said, “Previously, the then deputy election officer Apurva Wankhede used to conduct meetings for us and we were informed about the locations where the enrolment drives would be held. The registration forms were provided to us and filled out by our members. However, after the LS elections, none of us were called for meetings and, therefore, not a single new voter’s registration has been done for transgenders.”

The first special meeting with transgenders and the representatives of marginalised groups was conducted by the district election department on September 12 last year. Such meetings were held frequently to ensure that no transgender or sex worker was left behind. Awareness campaigns were also organised.

“For sex workers, it is always tough to get their names registered in the voters’ list due to absence of identity and address proofs. Thus, we breathed a sigh of relief when the district administration was taking special efforts to create awareness among sex workers and register their names. This, however, stopped abruptly after the Lok Sabha polls,” said Meena Kurlekar of NGO Vanchit Vikas, which works with the community.

The other side
Speaking to mid-day, deputy election officer Samiksha Chandrakar, agreed that the department had not registered a single transgender and sex worker in the recent drives. “We will conduct a meeting with them soon.”

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