Debating India

Goa’s sex workers vote to save their homes

Monday 26 April 2004

BAINA, Goa: Sex workers in Goa turned up in hundreds to vote on Monday in their last bid at saving their homes, which will soon be demolished under a government order. The Baina beach is infamous for flesh trade with sex workers operating in some 250 hutments.

The entire area will be razed to the ground in the coming months. After months of rallying and protests, the women have been promised by various candidates that if elected, they would save their colony or at least ensure a good rehabilitation package.

Upbeat about the promises, the women braved blazing heat and long queues to vote.

"It has been 20 years now. Our children and grandchildren grew up here. We do not want anything else. We just want a house, employment for our children and good health services," Ingappa, a sex worker, said. "If they force us to move out of this place, then where will we go?," asked Ramona, another sex worker.

Husen Bibi, another sex worker, alleged that they were being harassed by the local authorities.

"For the past five-six months, these people have been harassing us. Where will we go? They have almost driven us out of our houses. We need these houses," she said.

Goa is one of the favoured tourist destinations in the country and has recently seen a rise in commercial sex-related activity. Though prostitution is illegal in India, all major cities have "red light areas" where prostitutes can be hired for a pittance.

NGOs have been demanding a legislation to ensure labour status for the prostitutes for over seven years now, but to no avail.

Ninety-four per cent of the country’s three million sex workers are Indians, while the rest are mainly from neighbouring Bangladesh and Nepal. At least 600,000 minors are also employed in the profession and their number is said to increasing by almost 10 per cent every year.

See online : The Times of India

P.S.

in The Times of India, Monday, april 26, 2004.

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