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Goa ready to renew rehabilitation plan for sex workers: NCW

Monday 5 July 2004, by SASTRY*Anil

PANAJI, JULY 4. The Chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW), Poornima Advani, has said the "commercial sex victims" (CSVs) of Baina beach in Goa did not opt for the temporary rehabilitation offered by the Goa Government because they were misled. She said the State Government was prepared to renew its rehabilitation package for such women.

She told The Hindu on Saturday that "some madams" who used to regularly visit the CSVs informed them that the temporary rehabilitation proposed by the Government at Bal Niketan at Ribandar (near Panaji) was a "jail" and hence they refused to move into Bal Niketan. However, the reality was different.

She said the NCW team, comprising herself, member Nafisa Hussain and NGO representative Pravin Patkar, held a public hearing at Vasco on Saturday morning but it was "not fruitful." Later, the team visited the Baina area without police and State Government officials as per the request of some NGOs, she said. She said the team met around 30 CSVs (according to the NCW, they are not commercial sex workers, but those forced into the trade and hence "victims") and heard their views. The team held discussions with the Chief Secretary, D.S. Negi, and the Chief Minister, Manohar Parrikar in the evening.

According to Dr. Advani, the State Government has agreed to the following: it would provide temporary rehabilitation to those CSVs who wish to stay in Goa, provide them skilled training and rehabilitate them; for those who wish to settle in their respective States, the Government would deposit Rs. 50,000 to Rs. one lakh, depending on the duration their stay in Baina, in fixed deposits for 10 years. The interest would be paid to them, and after 10 years, the principal too would be paid to them and circumstantial evidence would be enough to prove that they were CSVs at Baina.

Asked whether the NCW performed its duty as per the High Court directive, Dr. Advani said neither the Goa State Commission for Women (GSCW) nor the State Government informed the NCW about the rehabilitation package. The High Court, which had directed demolition of cubicles in Baina, had directed the NCW and the Women’s Commissions of Goa, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh to work together for a rehabilitation package. Some NGO, and not the GSCW, had informed her about the demolition on the afternoon of June 14, but by the time she contacted the officials, it was over.

The problem lay with identifying genuine victims (both CSVs and others) of the demolition, she said. The NCW would constitute a team, comprising representatives of the NCW and NGOs, which would identify the victims to facilitate their rehabilitation.

Anil Sastry

See online : The Hindu

P.S.

in The Hindu, Monday, July 05, 2004.

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