Indian Sex Workers Meet to Press for Legal Recognition
February 27, 2007
In Kolkata Sunday, a six-day conference of sex workers began with a call for labor rights and legal recognition. Legally, sex work in India is ambiguous. While prostitution is not explicitly banned, pimping, trafficking, and solicitation of clients are, participants said.
"Nearly 50,000 participants, both organized and individuals, from across India are meeting to press their demands," said Smarajit Jana, a doctor and chief advisor for the Committee for Indomitable Women, the largest sex-worker organization in West Bengal. "We believe the policy makers are going to accept sex workers as entertainment workers, today or tomorrow," Jana told a public rally as sex workers pumped their fists in the air.
"More than 5 million people in India are now living with AIDS, and it's a serious problem," Dennis Broun, UNAIDS country coordinator, told a conference meeting. In combating the epidemic, sex workers in Kolkata's Sonagachi district and the World Health Organization have played a vital role in distributing and promoting free condoms since 1992, he said. A state-backed program has also trained sex workers how to use female condoms.
Agence France Presse
2.25.2007; Sailendra Sil
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.