Separate booth for sex workers in W Bengal

Wooing voters

 “Four female election department workers will be in charge of the booth at Durgamani High School in the red light area,” District Magistrate Sanjay Bansal said here.

The names of 75 sex workers and their families existed on the electoral rolls in the Shantipur constituency in Nadia, but only 20 per cent turned up to vote in the last elections.
After observing that a majority of sex workers stayed away from voting as they faced insults from other people in the queue, the Nadia administration took the step of arranging an exclusive booth, Bansal said.

“When we came to know the reason why many sex workers did not turn up to vote, we stepped in and informed the State Election Commission for allowing a separate booth for them. This was forwarded to the Election Commission of India,” Bansal said.

“The commission granted permission for a separate booth. The move is rare in India and probably for the first time in West Bengal,” Bansal said.

The Nadia administration also enlisted new names of sex workers from the red light area with the rolls having 122 additional ones to the existing 75, taking the total to 197.
Some sex workers, however, were not happy with the arrangement as they felt a separate booth would further isolate them.

“Maybe, it is a good effort, but from the other point of view we will be isolated from society when a separate booth is arranged for us,” said a sex worker requesting anonymity.

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