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Many Haryana youth seek to marry sex workers

Gautam Dheer, Chandigarh, dhns April 4, 2013 1:56 IST

There are at least 1,500 eligible bachelors in Haryana who are awaiting their marriage with women sex workers. In a state blemished with a skewed sex ratio and free-flowing Khap diktats, this is a pleasant surprise.

The problem though is that of plenty, and these young men, some of them qualified professionals and traders, will have to wait longer for their bride. That’s because the Sirsa-based sect that has embarked upon this mission to transform the lives of sex workers by motivating eligible bachelors to volunteers to marry these women, is not finding enough brides. In times of cash-rich glorified marriages, the Dera Sacha Sauda sect in Haryana maintains that change for good is imminent and women sex workers will come out and embrace a promise for a better future with these young men.

Till date, as many as 17 youth have married women sex workers, the sect’s chief spokesperson and opthalmologist Aditya Insan told Deccan Herald. He said: “Out of 17, 14 such marriages are going very strong and at least four of them have had children. In one case, even the illegitimate children have been adopted.”

Dr Aditya said at last count there were an encouraging 1,500 youth who had formally applied for a wedlock with sex workers. The team involved in the tedious task of motivating sex workers says such women confront multiple dilemmas- from fear of the organised mafia to apprehensions of acceptability with the prospective grooms’ families and even on issues of compatibility.

“It’s an ongoing process until the mission is accomplished,” Dr Aditya said. It all started some time ago with a call given by the head of this multi-religious sect Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. The idea was to stop women from being exploited in brothels by getting them married. It would also stop the spread of the HIV virus with adequate medical intervention. So the sect volunteers began contacting sex workers in red light areas in Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai.

The sect head says he has named all women forced into sex trade as his daughters. “They would be marrying my daughters and none else. Like everyone, they also have a right to live with dignity,” he said. The sect pledges to look after the girls for life in case the marriage suffers a setback.

At the time of marriage, some cash contributed by the sect is deposited in a bank account opened for the girl. Household articles are also a part of gifts given to the couple. Haryana does not have a red light area, but there are thousands of sex workers in the state, reveal data obtained via RTI from the Women and Child Welfare Department.

Although the state government prefers to disagree with the data, the information states that there are 4,731 sex workers in various districts of the state.

Ambala and Yamuna Nagar have the highest number of sex workers, 1,000 in each district. Sirsa, which has the headquarters of the sect, has over 400 sex workers. RTI activist and advocate Pavan Parikh had filed the RTI application. The holy city of Kurukshetra, too, has 500 sex workers, the report said.

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