There should be no pre-condition that sex workers must give up their profession to get social benefits,Chief Secretary J K Banthia told 16 district collectors and officials of several key government departments at a brainstorming session.
The meeting on Monday was mandated earlier this month after a delegation of sex workers and transgenders,along with members of several civil society organizations batting for their rights,met him to discuss denial of their rights in educational,health,social welfare and other schemes.
Charting out a course for their inclusion,Banthia said no pre-conditions should be set,like women having to leave sex work if they want to access social benefits. I will soon issue a government order to this effect, he said.
Expressing concern over these marginalised communities not possessing requisite papers,thereby thwarting their access to development programmes,Banthia asked the officials to expedite the process of providing them with identity proof such as voter ID, ration and Aadhar cards.
It needs to be understood that even they (sex workers,transgenders and MSM) have equal rights like any of us. Any denial of their rights should be sorted out amicably through the co-ordination of various departments, he said.
He instructed all collectorates to draw up district-specific strategies in consultation with the WCD,Social Justice,Health and Education departments to address the issue of identity and residential proof and hold special drives to provide ration cards and voter ID cards for these communities.
Instructing officials to take steps to ensure children of sex workers are not denied access to schooling,Banthia stated,There should not be any exclusion of their children. They should get equal opportunities in education,besides hostel accommodation and scholarship schemes.
Principal Secretary,Higher & Technical Education,Sanjay Kumar,Secretary,Public Health,Meeta Rajivlochan,Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh,Principal Secretary,WCD,Ujjwal Uke and Member Secretary SCW,Shomita Biswas,were present along with deputy secretaries and directors of Health,Primary Education,Social Justice and other key government departments.
Sanjay Kumar asked collectorates to forward him the list of children of sex workers eligible for educational loans from the Higher & Technical Education department.
Ujjwal Uke called for the need of scaling up need-based vocational training and self-employment opportunities for sex workers and transgender groups.
Sensitisation of the police in changing they way they treat these groups was also discussed. Laxmi Tripathi,a transgender rights activist from Astitva NGO,Mumbai,had been voicing concern over arbitrary arrests,unlawful detainment and physical and verbal abuse of transgenders by the police.
Banthia said developments made on all the fronts discussed in the meeting would be reviewed at the Lokshahi Diwas on May 13. He has asked these marginalised groups to use Lokshahi Diwas as a platform to further share their grievances with the authorities.