A day after International Women’s Day was celebrated on March 8, sex workers, with the support of non-government organisations, staged a protest in front of the office of the Karnataka State Commission for Women on Tuesday demanding equal rights and condemning increasing police brutality.
The protesters submitted a memorandum to the Commission demanding action against the police.
“While on the one hand, women celebrities and achievers are portrayed in the media, on the other, the police beat up sex workers, humiliate and harass then publicly,” said one protester. Others pointed out that this is in violation of the Karnataka Police Act, which prohibits violence against sex workers.
“For the last two years, harassment has been on the rise,” was the allegation in the memorandum. Many sex workers alleged that they are often detained in stations illegally. “Though there is clear direction not to initiate punitive action, the police are using morality as an excuse to marginalise and criminalise sex workers,” said a member of an NGO who was part of the protest.
Protesters added that they had to earn a living to support their families. “If the government does not address issues that compel us to take up this work, then what right does it have to deny sex workers their livelihoods,” they said.
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