“When someone violates traffic rules, traffic cops impose fine on them and issue a receipt. Why can’t the police issue receipts to us when we are asked to pay fines?” asked Sheetal (names changed) while sharing her experience during a workshop that was organised to create awareness about the legal rights of transgender and sex workers.
The Community Learning Center, a NGO, yesterday conducted a workshop of para-legal volunteer from this marginalised community to advocate about the legal rights of sex workers. Besides, the Vidhi Sena Pradhikaran, a group of lawyers, too came forward to provide free legal service to sex workers who are illegally detained by the police.
During the workshop — most of the attendants were transgender — shared the incidents where they experienced insensitivity of the police. One of the sex workers Shalini (name changed), who is HIV positive since the past eight years, said that cops didn’t even allow her to take medicines while she was in custody. “Cops have detained me on several occasions for soliciting sex. Being HIV positive I have to take medicines every day on time. However, the police don’t allow me to meet my friends and take medicines from them,” Shalini said, asking if there was any provision in the law that gives sex workers this right.
A similar experience was shared by Darshana Vyas of an NGO that works for the cause of sex workers. “In Nashik, some sex workers were detained from a brothel. However, the cops didn’t produce them before the court and directly sent them to rescue home,” said Vyas. She added that police mistreat sex workers, as most of the women aren’t aware of the legal provisions for them. Some sex workers also raised the issue of legal rights of their child.
R K Malabade, secretary of Pune District Legal Services Authority that holds training session for sex workers, advised that sex workers shouldn’t think that they have been given lawyers just for the namesake. He added that they even get legal assistance in handling their property matter too.