IMPHAL, June 10: Demanding rehabilitation package from the state government according to a directive of the Supreme Court made on February 11, 2011, Survivors’ Action for Human Rights (SAHR) submitted a memorandum to Manipur Governor, Gurbchan Jagat today addressing the plight of the commercial sex workers(CSW) and HIV affected women of the state.
The memorandum included a charter of demand which include setting up of special schemes for rehabilitation of the physically and sexually abused women including female sex workers, to establish night shelter in every district exclusively for CSW’s so that they can avoid frequent harassment from anti social and armed personnel, to take up necessary arrangement for providing vocational training exclusively for the people living with HIV/AIDS, CSW’s and those affected by drugs.
The memorandum was submitted at the conclusion of a one day women convention titled “ Right to live with Dignity” held at the State Youth Hostel, Khuman Lampak today which was jointly organized by SAHR and Centre for Social Development.
Addressing media at the convention, many CSWs and People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHAs) poured out their experiences and the difficulties, trauma suffered by them.
One CSW, Lucy (name changed) said that they came to prostitution out of necessity. “We never came into it willingly but were forced by the circumstances, my husband expired and I have two children, I have no job and no one came to my aid, I have to feed my children and try to give them an education if possible by using any means necessary, there were no other options”, she said poignantly.
Other CSWs also gave their account on the humiliation and the torture faced by them at the hands of state security forces, “We are thrashed up by security personnel when we refuse to comply with their abusive demands, they snatch our money, mobile phones and force themselves on us, even medical officers at RIMS stigmatize us if we confide to them that we are CSWs, there has been many times when committing suicide seemed the easy way out”.
N Ningthemjao, project in charge of CSW for SAHR stated that empowerment of women is a global issue but the issue of female sex workers have been kept aside. The armed conflict in the state for the last five decades has killed thousands and left scores homeless, although the state government provided some interim relief, economic security was rarely considered in the rehabilitation packages, as a result, acute poverty linked to armed conflict and HIV related deaths is a major reason for the growing number of commercial sex workers in the State.
He further stated on a positive note that the Supreme Court in a double bench sitting of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Gyan Sudhra Mishra on February 11 last issued a directive and according to it, CSWs should be given technical and vocational training by the States and Union territories and the concerned government’s should forward a draft proposal in the regard to the centre by May 15. The deadline was further extended upto July 15,2011. If the proposals are not sent by then, then the concerned chief secretary of the state will have to explain at the case hearing of the Supreme Court scheduled on July 19.
The CSWs and the HIV effected women voiced in unison that the directive if made reality and implemented in the State will provide a new lease on life for them.