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Campaign for Sexworkers Rights

In Bangalore, the sexuality minority communities are closely linked with the sex workers movement and we often come together for common platforms. A prime example of this is the union between Sangama and Suraksha, an organization working in Bangalore Rural District with women sex workers and sexuality minorities). Each of the organizations has a strong community base in and around Bangalore City. At present there two organizations together are reaching out to around 10,000 sexuality minorities and sex workers in and around Bangalore City.

Karnataka Sexworkers Union is a sexworkers union is initiated by Sangama. It is affiliated with New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), a federation of independent trade unions. Efforts are being made to create an all India sexworkers union.

Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA) is based on the erroneous premise that there is no such thing as voluntary sex work and punishes mostly poor people whose livelihoods are based on sex work. Trafficking is enforced labor that violates human rights as it takes away consent and freedom. Legitimate sexwork, on the other hand, has to do with economic viability that is a critical component of livelihoods for millions of men, women and hijras sexworkers.

The intended purpose of the law is to prevent trafficked sexwork, however it becomes a tool to harass, abuse, extort and torture sexworkers across India. Although sexual services have constant demand and is tolerated within the margins of society, it is stigmatized and condemned at the same time. Currently, the Indian Government is proposing to amend ITPA by seeking to penalize clients of sexworkers. Passage of such an amendment will be catastrophic as far as the livelihoods of sexworkers and their dependants are concerned. Urgent need is to recognise sexwork as legitimate work/profession.

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