Sex workers: outcaste children, police repression, cruel society

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New Delhi, Sep 23 (UNI) As the selected passages are read out of the much acclaimed book in Malayali Njan, Laingikatozhilaali's English translated version 'The Autobiography of a Sex Worker', they give the vivid impression of outcaste children, police repression and a society that rejects the very existence of sex workers.

Nalini Jameela, the author, resembles any other Indian middle-aged traditional wife and mother. But she has something else to introduce herself, as she has also been a sex-worker and presently working as an activist and leader of sex-workers' forum in Kerala.

A book reading of the famous book followed by a discussion was organised here by Indian Women's Press Corps yesterday. Eminent guests from various fields including the author herself, the translator J Devika, actress Meeta Vashisht and Little Magazine editor Antara Dev Sen was present at the discussion.

Unfortunately, in India sex-workers are not even considered human beings as they carry a strong stigma. Though they do a service to society, they are thought of as the basest form of humanity. In many states sex-trade is illegal and punishable.

Indian sex-workers' problems carries swathe of issues like torture and harassment meted out to them, many of whom were sold to brothels as children, sex-workers' health, human and legal rights, the furure of their children.

There is an increase in immoral trafficking of girls and women from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal, Bangladesh and Nepal.

But things, though slowly, are changing as sex-workers in various parts of the country are building organisations to seek recognition and to protect their rights.

Nalini displays her exceptional character as she confidently refuses to accept her profession as a taboo saying that she wrote the book in response to the great injustice done to the sex-workers in the country.

Nalini claimed that sex-workers should be given their due respest as they are also human-beings with rights.

She alleged that sex-workers are always diminished whereas the men who visit them should also bear the equal responsibility as in Indian society men take upper hand in all aspects of life.

She remarked in contemporary world everyone was talking of women empowerment, it should be applied to them too. She asked people to leave the attitude of condemning women related with the profession as they chose it due to lack of choices.

Nalini who is very much confident about her profession and identity said she wanted people to feel the presence of these women.

She asked for rights and dignity as workers for the sex-workers as their job was also a work.

''All prostitutes cannot be called sex-workers as women who are aware of their profession and rights can only be considered as workers,'' she maintained.

During the discussion actress Meeta Vashisht praised Nalini saying ''she was quite an extraordinary woman with a mind of her own and politically conscious.'' Antara Dev Sen said Nalini's inherited political consciousness was an example of Kerala's cent per cent literacy rate which was not possible with other states.

Meeta further said the women in other parts of the country related to this profession were minimally educated and lack consciousness.

Nalini maintained that there is a basic difference between immoral trafficking of young girls and women and sex-workers. The latter had physical and moral capacity to make choices. In Kerala this distinction was very clear. She emphasised that sex-workers and immoral trafficking should be kept apart. As a measure in Kerala women below 23 are not registered by sex-workers organisations, she informed.

Nalini said there was nothing wrong with sex-work as women were trying to earn their living. But still they were disempowered.

Changes in conditions like banishment of middle men can improve the situation of these women, she said.

Most of the people agreed that education was the best measure to improve their condition.


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