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Passport a ‘tall order’ for daughters of sex workers in city

Hosnani is probably the only Indian to have been selected for the programme which goes on for over three months.

Kavita Hosnani (19) hops from one counter to another at the passport office, trying hard to get her documents for passport processed. She is trying her luck for the second time now, aiming to sail through a dozen countries as part of a “semester at sea” starting January 7, a programme sponsored by the University of Virginia. The teenager says she, like some of her friends in the past, is facing an ordeal at every stage of trying to obtain a passport because she is the daughter of a sex worker.

Hosnani is probably the only Indian student to have been selected for the programme which goes on for over three months. “She has  been involved in community service, which was a basis for her selection. But uncertainty looms large as the programme’s date is inching closer,” says Robin Chaurasiya, founder of Kranti, an NGO that works with daughters of sex workers.

The last time Hosnani applied, her efforts were thwarted at the stage of police verification. “My grandmother and I lived in a building in Kamathipura, Mumbai’s largest red-light area, but were kicked out as the building was purchased. The police did not consider that and shut my file,” Hosnani says.

Chaurasiya is not sure if Hosnani will be able to make it to the programme. “She needs six visas for the programme. In addition, the orgainsers sent us an email saying we could possibly try for the next year. Opportunities like these come once in a lifetime, but this is not the first time we are facing such an issue,” says Chaurasiya.

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Hosnani’s friend, Shweta Katti, who won a UN award recently, reportedly faced the same problems. “Not only Katti, but my other friends at the NGO, Rani and Sumaiya, faced similar problems at both the processing and verification levels. While Katti missed her programme, Rani’s trip to the US for a dance programme got delayed by two weeks,” Hosnani says.

Chaurasiya interrupts her to say Sumaiya missed a six-week leadership programme in the UK and went to a similar camp in the US for three weeks. “Courtesy the passport trouble, another girl Pinky missed the two weeks of the US dance programme,” she adds.

Regional Passport Officer Dr Swati V Kulkari says her office does not discriminate on the basis of background of the applicants. “We look at urgency. If an applicant feels he or she is not getting a fair deal, we try to intervene and help them, irrespective of who they are or where they belong to,” she says.


Dr Kulkarni says the biggest challenge is people not filling in full details. “The applicant has to convince us the genuineness of his or her case and we promise to help them within our parameters,” Dr Kulkarni adds.

Hosnani knows having made past the last counter of the passport office, the next obstacle would be to combat the the police’s “mentality”. She feels a case like hers does not go down too well the with the men in khaki.

Senior police inspector Suresh Kilje of V P Road police station, which had shut Hosnani’s file earlier, says she was not available when a police constable went for the verification.

First published on: 18-12-2014 at 04:37:12 am
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