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Sex Workers And Women’s Organisations Condemn DCW Chair Swati Maliwal’s Statement On Sex Work

[While in complete agreement with the statement posted below, I would like to add a personal note. I am a citizen of Delhi who believes that in its short stint in office so far, and despite every attempt by the central government to paralyze its functioning, the Aam Admi Party has taken decisive, creative and positive steps in several fields – education, health, and above all in its strong assertion that water is a natural resource that should not be treated as a commodity.

Nevertheless, it is unfortunately increasingly clear that on gender related issues, AAP’s functionaries exhibit the deepest conservatism – from Kejriwal’s speech on March 8th, which thanked his wife for keeping “his” home running, to Somnath Bharti on making Delhi safe enough for even “beautiful women” to be out at night, as if sexual violence is a tribute and compliment to the beauty of women, to Swati Maliwal’s aligning herself with the deeply conservative abolitionist position on sex work.

This conservatism is at odds not only with “elite activists”, as AAP may think, but with the views of the majority of ordinary people, who poured out into the streets after December 16th 2012, and sent scores of petitions to the Justice Verma Committee, expressing basically the belief in the rights of all women to public spaces at all times, and condemning victim blaming; sex workers are ordinary people too, and so are housewives, who even while they run homes with devotion and efficiency, are not unaware of the unfairness of the shared domestic space being considered to belong to the husband and “his” family. A March 8th message could have recognized women in their different roles, as housewives, domestic servants, CEOs, political activists. As a party that has learnt from other social movements, AAP needs to urgently start a conversation with women’s organizations of different kinds, including sex workers’ organizations.]

The statement follows:

The National Network of Sex Workers and women’s organisations in India strongly condemn the observations and statement of Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), Ms. Swati Maliwal calling sex work and prostitution akin to “rape” and calling for its “eradication”. We call on her to immediately withdraw her statement and tender an unconditional apology to the all women in sex work, whose dignity has been impacted by her observations.

The Honorable Supreme Court has recognized the need to ensure that sex workers are able to live a life of dignity. The Court set up a panel to discuss “Conditions conducive for sex workers to live with dignity in accordance with the provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution.” (Budhadev Karmaskar vs. Government of West Bengal).

 The Chairperson of DCW should do her homework before launching into a campaign that has not engaged with the ongoing debates and dialogues to recognize the rights of adult consenting workers to remain in sex work and ensure that their human rights and dignity are protected, such a short sighted and uninformed perspective demeans the office of a Commission set up to protect the rights and dignity of women. Continue reading Sex Workers And Women’s Organisations Condemn DCW Chair Swati Maliwal’s Statement On Sex Work