Emphasis on need for quick justice delivery for rape victims

Padmashree award-winning social activist Dr Sunitha Krishnan expressed a need for speedy justice delivery in cases pertaining to sexual assault cases of women.

Speaking at a programme organised by School of Social Work, Roshni Nilaya, on Thursday, she said, “Perpetrators of crimes should be convicted within a specific time frame. Delivering speedy justice is more important than the quantum of punishment. Crimes of rape should be looked at separately. Also, there should be a community alert system which permits display the photo of the culprits of sexual assault cases.”

Stating that sex trade is a social evil and also an organised crime, Krishnan said that 88 per cent of the sex workers are into the trade by force – only the remaining 12 go by choice. Also, victims of sexual assault are treated as criminals although they are innocent. Society considers it a taboo to speak about sex workers.

“Funds of Rs 100 crore have been sanctioned by the Central government for the setting up of an Organised Crime Investigative Agency. The move of the government has come in the wake of the directions of the Supreme Court. A legislation against human trafficking is also being framed,” she said.

“The problem of NGOs that work to ensure rehabilitation of sex workers is that there are no committed social work graduates to work with them. The lack of funds is another important reason,” she rued.

Rescue operations too have legal bindings and rescue teams have to follow security protocol. They cannot take the police, as their work is to rescue the sex workers and not carry out interrogation, explained Krishnan.

On her being selected for Padmashree award, she said it was an acknowledgment for the work undertaken for sex workers and victims of sexual assault, who comprise the marginalised and excluded group. “The award is also an indication that she is on the right path,” she said.

About Sunita Krishnan
Born and raised in Bengaluru, Krishnan completed her graduation at School of Social Work, Roshni Nilaya in Mangaluru. She later went to Bengaluru and involved herself in movements in support of the rights of sex workers and against human trafficking. She was even jailed for protesting against a beauty pageant in Bengaluru. Owing to circumstances, she had to leave to Hyderabad.

With the money collected from the sale of ornaments donated by sex workers, she rented a room for the rehabilitation of sex workers and their children. The organisation ‘Prajwala’ came into being and, today, it is the biggest rehabilitation centre for sex workers and their children, in the world.

There are 18 branches of Prajwala. The organisation has 250 staff – among whom, 50 per cent are survival staff. So far, Prajwala has prevented 8,000 children from entering prostitution and during the last 20 years 15,600 girls were saved from prostitution, Sunita said. The organisation has filed Public Interest Litigations against various state governments, including Kerala and Telangana. Traumatic experiences of physical attacks, threats etc, have kept me going, she said.

Krishnan was awarded doctorate for her thesis titled ‘Study on Commercial Sex Workers’. She has also produced several films in various languages, including ‘Naa Bangaru Talli’ in Telugu, which has won national and international awards. Sunita Krishnan, who is also the alumna of Roshni Nilaya was honoured on the occasion.
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