Plans on anvil to bring sex workers into mainstream

M C Nanaiah, Chairman, Expert Committee, to suggest amendments to laws related to sexual assault cases and enhancement of punishment for crime, said the committee will recommend to the government to chalk out programmes to bring sex workers to the mainstream of the society.

Speaking at a hearing from representatives of women organisations, NGOs, Sthree Shakti members here, on Wednesday, he said sex workers are exploited and lead a pitiable life.
Favouring wider discussion on legalisation of prostitution in the country, he said there is a demand from various quarters to legalise prostitution in the country, so there is a need for wider discussion on the issue.

“Sex workers have been demanding that their work be considered as employment, so that they can lead dignified life within the frame work of law,” he said. A detailed survey on sex workers have not been carried out so far across the country.

According to an estimate there are over one crore sex workers in the country. Only 25 to 30 per cent of cases pertaining sexual assaults come to light in the country. On several occasions, the victim’s family refuses to file complaint fearing society. The incidents of moral policing is reported in Dakshina Kannada district. No one has the right to take law into one’s hand, he added.

Nanaiah said the committee is likely to submit its recommendations to the government within three months.

Sweekara Kendra

Sub Committee Chairperson Motamma said the committee will recommend to the government to restart Sweekara Kendra in Dakshina Kannada District. She directed DC A B Ibrahim and SP Sharanappa to organise sensitisation programmes for bus conductors and drivers to ensure that women do not feel unsafe in buses.

Social worker Kamala Gowda said rapists should not be given bail. In several cases, incidents sexual assault cases are solved through mutual understanding. The victim should not be made to wait while registering the FIR.

On the other hand, Mary Pais said stringent action should be initiated against those who indulge in moral policing. It curtails the rights of women. While Rita Noronha said domestic rape by husband should be included. There is a need to organise gender sensitisation programmes in schools, colleges and working places. Sex education should be included in the curriculum. Civic society has to protest when the incidents of rape and sexual assault are reported.

Expressing concern over rise in female foeticide cases in Mangaluru, Marlyn Martis said sex ratio in DK district 1060:1000 in 1980’s. However, it has come down to 1020:1000. This is an alarming situation which needs to be addressed.

Jyothilakshmi said there is a need to constitute a district-level committee to deal with sexual assault cases. Teachers should create awareness on good touch and bad touch among children. “We have enough laws in the country. The mechanism to implement these laws should be strengthened.”

Prof Hilda Rayappan said Sweekara Kendra in Mangaluru is need of the hour. Complaint box should be installed at the washrooms in schools and colleges. Intensive awareness programme needs to be taken up.

Ambiguity of law

SP Sharanappa said ambiguity in IPC Section 376 and POCSO Act relating to rape needs to be addressed by the committee. The IPC Section 376 has given an exception to sexual intercourse if a girl between the age group of 15 to 18 years is married. However, in POCSO Act, it is considered as a rape. In such a scenario, the police are in confusion while filing the case.

The SP said 14 moral policing cases have been registered in the last four years. The police have initiated stringent action against perpetrators of law. The police beat point will be installed at Santwana—women’s helpline to provide security to the staff who work round the clock.

The committee should recommend, forensic expert team and DNA lan at the range level, to reduce delay in filing chargesheet, he added.

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