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Protest Action Against The Proposed ITPA Amendment Act

Protest Action Against The Proposed ITPA Amendment Act In 3 States West Bengal , Bihar and Orissa

DMSC participated in protest rallies against the proposed ITPA amendment bill on 1st July 2008 in 3 major States, West Bengal, Orissa and Bihar.

West Bengal: It was the birth anniversary of the maker of modern Bengal --- Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy.They the most marginalized sex-workers, chose this day to their grievances against the much talked hyped notorious ITPA. A rally was organized. It started form College Square. A stage was already erected at Rani Rashmani Road. An almost 3000 strong rally reached there around 6 in the evening. Eminent personalities like Hon'ble Education Minister Partha Dey, Hon'ble fire-brigade Minister Pratim Chattopadhyaya were present among others.

Swapna Gain (ex secretary, DMSC) denounced ITPA in unequivocal terms. She said since 2006, sex-workers' organisation through out the country have been raising questions regarding the prescribed amendments. A Parliamentary Standing Committee was to look into the matter. But unfortunately, ignoring the recommendation of the Committee, the Women & Child Welfare Minister Renuka Choudhury is up to passing the bill in the coming Parliamentary Session. We consider this to be a basic human rights violation. In the name of curbing trafficking, it only aim at banning sexwork. If and when the bill becomes a law. It would raise a big question mark to the live and livelihood of almost twenty million sex-workers and those depending an them. Section no 4. would snatch away the sex-workers of theirs right to maintain and look after their children and relatives. The children, without being able to access educational privilege would fall short of becoming true citizens of the country and would go astray indulging in anti-social activities. Section no 5(C), 13.2 would evict the sex workers form their present dwelling places, it will also allow the police to torture them at their free will. 

But no law can restrict the practice and if so happens the project of HIV/AIDS Intervention would face a set back. The result would be disastrous. We think, this bill is the expression of oppressive dominance by the state over the sex-workers, today we have joined hands to stand against this discriminatory ITPA. We must confess that it is absolutely necessary to ban trafficking and in this point we stand by the government. We believe, if we are allowed to carry on our struggle against trafficking one day the present gloomy picture will surely change. We condemn ITPA. We appeal to all (present here) to be by our side in our struggle for a livelihood. At the same time, we declare that we would not hesitate to boycott election or go far fast---till-death once this bill becomes a law. 

Orissa: Even though in Orissa the number of Sex worker who participated in the rally was only 150, comparatively smaller to other States, but they did receive the share of importance and media attention. The Rally was a Symbolic rally which showed sex worker walking through silent protest, by showing a Arrow pierced through their mouth and HIV logo on the top.The message that they wanted to convey was that the government have taken important policy level decision on ITPA , without any dialogue with the them and without their consensus. Thus the "Arrow" represented the attitude of the government, where the government has tried to make the community lip locked on the issues.

The protest all emphasized on the point that , if the proposed amendment come in action, the HIV Intervention which a priority in the country will come to a halt and thus leading to increasing HIV cases in India. The program was captured by 6 television channel and 5 Daily newspapers in Orissa.

Bihar: In Bihar, protest was organized by flying sex worker at Patna railway station. DMSC also lunched a signature campaign and received good response on it. As the part of the protest they also submitted a letter to Governor of Bihar. The program was captured by Times of India and opinions from Sex workers were taken on the proposed amendment in the form of Interviews.

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