Sex workers in the city have formed an organisation to educate fellow workers on legal matters to avoid continuous harassment at the hands of police and spread awareness about legal aids.
Over 240 sex workers have come together to form Ekta Sangathan that was registered in August last year. Vadodara is the third city in the state to have such organisation after Surat and Ahmedabad.
Speaking on the need for such a body,Sunita Patel (name changed),a sex worker and president of Ekta Sangathan,said: It is a different thing to get arrested when on job. But we are continuously harassed by the city police,who pick us up and put behind the bars even when we are out for a walk.
She added: We are dragged to the police stations and sexually harassed by the constables. If we protest,we are beaten up with hockey sticks. Since we do not have much knowledge about legal matters,we are arrested and charged with wrong cases.
A city-based NGO,Vikas Jyot Trust,will provide the sangathan with a panel of lawyers,which will acquaint them with legal knowledge.
They can be arrested for indulging in flesh trade or doing vulgar activities in the public. But many times,they are picked up from certain pockets in the city and charged with false offences, said Naim Dudhwala,an advocate with the Gujarat High Court.
The group will also focus on various other socio-economic issues,including regular HIV test,spreading awareness about sexually transmitted diseases and their prevention during the trade,and providing financial help when required. The organisation has also taken up the cause to rescue the under aged girls forced into the flesh trade.
We are not in this trade by choice. Many times,minor girls are also dragged into this profession. We are rescuing these girls before they become a part of this vicious trade and help them get a respectable employment, said Uma Patel (name changed),a sex worker.
The police,on the other hand,said they were unaware of any such instances.
Although no such cases have come to our notice,if they have any proof to show misbehaviour by the police,they can approach the senior officers for action, said Pravin Sinha,Joint Commissioner of Police.
Sinha added: Flesh trade is an illegal activity. We are more concerned about the agents behind such rackets. In our raids,we try to free these women from the trade.