Transgenders approach SC for say in rehab of sex workers

The apex court is likely to take up the application on March 23

An organisation representing transgendered people has approached the Supreme Court with a plea to consider their concerns in formulating a policy for the rehabilitation of sex workers who wanted to lead a dignified life after leaving the trade.

“Due to entrenched social and economic marginalisation wherein transgendered people face discrimination and prejudice in most fields including education, employment, health care, housing and social security, the transgendered people are left with no option but to resort to begging or sex work,” it said.

Sangama, a Bangalore–based society, filed an interim application before the Supreme Court which is hearing the matter relating to rehabilitation of sex workers after converting a criminal appeal into a public interest litigation. A Bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and Gyan Sudha Misra is likely to take up the application on March 23.

The apex court in February last directed the Central government and all state governments to prepare schemes to give technical and vocational training to sex workers, observing that they have a right to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution.

In July last year, the apex court constituted a panel comprising senior advocates Pradip Ghosh as chairman and Jayant Bhushan as co–chairman for its assistance and directed state governments to carry out a survey to find out how many sex workers wanted rehabilitation, find a mechanism for it and report to the panel on how many of them would voluntarily continue to engage in sex work.

Police harassment

In its plea, the society submitted that transgendered people mostly engaged themselves in sex work and faced police harassment and abuse on a daily basis with no legal redress available, thereby further diminishing their chances of getting integrated into mainstream society. It came out with suggestions like the building of specific community run shelter homes for young transgendered people, since they often lacked family support; giving them reservation in government jobs in order to encourage education, and voter Identity and ration cards, besides providing alternative livelihood skills or training to aged or elderly sex workers to continue to earn their livelihood.

It pointed out that measures as prescribed in the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act were not suited to the transgendered sex workers as the most rescue operations targeted brothels or lodges only.

The transgendered people were typically street–based sex workers, working independently and not under the control of brothel–keepers, it added.

The application suggested the court direct an empirical survey across India to estimate the number of transgendered people who engaged in sex work and how many wanted to be rehabilitated in order to formulate proper rehabilitation scheme for them.

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