Pune: In a first-of-its-kind project, six Pune-based law students from different colleges had organised a one-day workshop for educating sex workers about their legal rights along with Pune District Legal Service Authority (PDLSA).
Sex workers at the workshop
Six law students, Aditi Mane, Tanvi Rao, Megha Ramgude, Pooja Agarwal, Samruddhi Naik and Mahadevi Jagtap had organised the workshop. As many as 50 sex workers participated. The workshop consisted of group activities in which the women were divided into groups of six and were asked to perform a skit about their life in a red light area.
PDLSA secretary Mahesh Jadhav said, “Most of the time, policemen do not follow the law during raids and arrests. In order to make them understand the law we planned this event here, far from their area of work and in a place where they don’t have to disclose their identity.”
Judicial magistrate PP Kestikar and assistant public prosecutor Gauri Ladkade informed them about their rights during arrests and also told them about the Domestic Violence Act. They were also informed about the rehabilitation programs for them and their children.
Aditi Rao, an organiser said, “While interacting with them, we realized that some of the women were dragged into this business because their husbands had deserted them. They were doing this for their children.
Later, when they are arrested and the brothel owner brings them out of the prison, the owners claim that they had to spend a lot of money for the release. Because of this, the women have to continue their service to repay the amount as a loan.”
Payal (name changed) who hails from Assam is a sex worker and mother of a five-year-old girl, was one of the participants. She said, “I was 12 when I was sold for R50,000. I do not know about the law but police threaten us for no reason. I will continue working for such women as this life has given me the power to raise my voice.”