Condemning the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal’s comments equating sex work with ‘rape’, the National Network of Sex Workers (NNSW) and women’s rights organisations have demanded an unconditional apology from her to all sex workers. Maliwal had called for the eradication of prostitution.
“She should apologise to all the women she disrespected,” said M Kokila, president of the NNSW, and Meena Seshu of Sampada Grameen Mahila Sanstha (SANGRAM), whoare initiating the protest campaign.
Members of Veshya Anyaya Mukti Parishad (VAMP), a sex workers’ collective of over 5,000 people across Maharashtra and Karnataka, South India AIDS Action Network in Tamil Nadu, Women’s Initiative in Tirupati and others have submitted a petition to DCW condemning the statement.
Citing a Supreme Court ruling, the petitioners said, “The apex court has recognised the need to ensure that sex workers have all rights to be able to live a life of dignity. The DCW chief should have done her homework before launching her campaign. Such an uninformed perspective demeans the office of the commission.
“It is a shame because sex workers have largely contributed to the reduction of HIV transmission. A huge number of sex worker-led organisations are at the forefront of the HIV prevention campaign,” said Shabana D Gaundi of VAMP.
Maliwal said she wants to start a pilot project for Delhi sex workers in which they would be given viable means of livelihood. “Those who still want to continue with sex work won’t be forced to join,” she said.