The two Punekars, who are participating in the 6-day ‘sex workers festival’, will put forth several demands for their welfare, and chief among them will be a demand for pension
To fight against all kinds of social exclusion, eleven sex workers from across the state, including two from Pune, have made their way to the ongoing six-day ‘Sex Workers Festival’ in Kolkata.
The festival, which was inaugurated yesterday, will have a series of interactive seminars and workshops on various policy and legal issues such as social inclusion, right to information (RTI), right to education (RTE), food security act and pension issues of sex workers.
Themed ‘Protibade Nari, Protirodhe Nari’ (Protest by women, Prevention by women), the festival is being hosted by the Durbar Mahila Samanway Committee (DMSC) in Kolkata and will be held from January 29 to February 3. Over 80 sex workers representing community-based organisations from nine states will be attending the festival. Many of them are affiliated to national networks such as All India Network of Sex Workers.
A sex worker (name withheld), from the city, said, “We will speak about our problems and discuss the difficulties we face while trying to get documents to open bank accounts. We will talk about the difficulties we encounter while educating our children. We believe that the solutions to perennial problems will be sought in this festival.”
Sachin Kamble, a senior volunteer from Center for Advocacy and Research, Pune branch, said, “The participants from Pune will confer about the problems faced by them in this workshop. It is an important platform for them. They will also partake in discussion on anti-trafficking, HIV awareness.”
Annad Bakare, another volunteer with an NGO, said, “Issues related to the hygiene of the workers will also be discussed at the festival.”
Pushpa (name changed), another sex worker, said, “We want regular pension as well as social security facilities for ourselves like other members of the society.”
Tejaswi Sevekari, director of Saheli group, a community-based group, has sent the two sex workers from Pune for this event.
She said, “Around 10,000 workers from all over the country will gather there to discuss their problems and find solutions for the same.”
Focus on pension
The main focus of the Festival will be on getting pension for these workers, reducing all forms of violence, the reduction and prevention of trafficking of minors and on strengthening the perspective of sex workers on their basic and fundamental rights. Experts from flagship programs such as rural livelihood will be addressing the Festival.