Stop Police Atrocities Against Sex Workers

Over the past few months, there has been a horrifying increase in physical and sexual violence and harassment by the police of sex-workers in different parts of Bangalore. The police have been brutally raping and beating sex workers, robbing and extorting money from them and publicly humiliating them. Women have been repeatedly raped, and threatened with false cases if they try to file complaints. Women returning home have been beaten up and dragged to the police station, money is extorted from them under the threat of false cases. The police have also been taking photographs of them, both in public and in the police station, and threatening to release them to TV channels. Social workers working with sex workers have also been targeted, assaulted with extreme police violence, and insulted in public. No complaint is registered against the police officials and the violence continues with impunity.

Sex workers now live in constant fear of police brutality, and find it difficult to even enter certain areas. These women live and work in these areas, and this is a direct infringement of the right to freedom of movement of the sex workers.

Sex workers have families and children who are dependent on their income. To impede them in their movement, to assault them and detain them with complete illegality and absolute impunity, affects not only them, but also their families and minor children.

In this time of rising awareness of sexual violence against women, does the rape of a sex worker not merit discussion? When the state will not address the social and economic issues that compel women to take up sex work, then what right does it have to deny sex workers their livelihood?

Sex workers’ rights are human rights
The Supreme Court has stated that sex workers are entitled to a life of dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution, and their fundamental rights should not violated in any manner. It has recognized that sex workers are not criminals, but are victims of economic necessity and circumstances. The Police Department has itself issued circulars prohibiting violence against sex workers. Yet, this violence is continuing. This is a direct violation of the fundamental human rights of sex workers.

Safety for women should extend to all women. Police brutality against sex workers must be seen in the larger context of violence against women. Sexual violence against sex workers must be punished. The police violence against them is inhumane, illegal, unconstitutional and violative of the fundamental rights of sex workers.

We demand:
1. Immediate investigation and prosecution in incidents of rape of sex workers
2. Immediate cessation of police brutality and harassment against sex workers
2. Conduct investigation and punish police officials who are guilty of violence against sex worker.
3. The Government must pay compensation including medical expenses to all women who are victims of police violence.
4. The Government must take steps to protect the fundamental rights of sex workers to live with dignity.
5. Training and sensitization programmes to be conducted for police officers in regard to the fundamental rights of sex workers.
6. The Government should call for an immediate meeting of all concerned officials including the police, along with members of civil society organisations and NGOs working with sex workers to discuss issues faced by sex workers.

Extent of Police Depravity: On the 29th of November, at 9 pm, a sex worker was dragged by two policemen into a Hoysala van near Majestic, and gang-raped repeatedly. She was brutally beaten up, and when she tried to escape, she was dragged back by her hair, and threatened with dire consequences. The policemen then robbed her of her money, and threw her out of the van, threatening her with false cases of robbery if she informed anyone of this incident. Another sex worker was trafficked by a police who is presently in Uppaparpet Police Station, and he has continuously exploited her by Raping, physically assaulting and living of her earnings. There were times when he has even tried to kill her and her children by adding poison to their food.

Friday, December 6, 2013 - 9:30pm