BENGALURU: Except for rare cases, not all women are forced into sex work, are trafficked or exploited, but choose to join the profession voluntarily and with dignity, to support their families, women sex workers said at a webinar on the occasion of International Sex Workers Day on Thursday. They appealed to people to treat sex work with dignity, and shared their life experiences at the webinar, organised by the Indian Association of Palliative Care, Uttara Karnataka Mahila Okkoota (UKMO) and Samraksha.
Mukta Pujar, president, UKMO, said following an assault on a woman sex worker by a client in 2011, a panel was set up, and made recommendations in 2016. Recently, the Supreme Court ordered that the recommendations be implemented. Except for women under 18 years of age, police should not presume that voluntary sex work is trafficking or exploitation, and raid them rescue them or register a case. In case they file a case of rape, police should treat it like they do any other such case, and get them treated in hospital, she said.
Hulligemma, secretary, UKMO, and Dr Rajni Herman, project director, Shalom, said the stigma, discrimination, and judgmental questions at healthcare facilities prevent them from accessing healthcare. Most depend on local quacks, hide illnesses and approach doctors only at the end stage of disease, they said.
Manjula, board member, UKMO, said that under mobile-based sex work, they often get cheated as clients avoid paying, and later block their calls. Vulnerable situations like failed love or early widowhood make them take up the profession, and they aspire to live like other women and educate their children, she said. Lakshmi, board member, UKMO, warned that often, partners woo them but are only interested in their savings and earnings.