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‘Anti-trafficking bill ignores consenting sex workers’ allege Sex Workers who have chosen it as a Source of Income

New Delhi/Kolkata, July 25: Geeta (name changed), a resident of Sangli village in Maharashtra, was 19 when she became a sex worker, not as a victim of trafficking but as an option to feed herself and support her family financially. Now 32 and a mother of 10-year-old son, Geeta is facing a new hurdle — that of forced rehabilitation by the government of sex workers. And she expressed her anxiety that if Parliament clears an anti-human trafficking bill pending before it, it causes chaos in her life. “I don’t want to go to any rehab centre, I don’t want to learn stitching work or making pickles. Nobody forced me to be a sex worker; it was my choice and I am earning well enough to survive with my son,” Geeta told IANS.

This is not just the voice of Geeta — many other sex workers too believe the anti-trafficking bill will create turmoil in their lives. “Not all sex workers are victims of human trafficking and the government needs to understand the difference between the two. There are many like me who have chosen it as a source of income,” she added.

As the monsoon session began on July 18, the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018, was tabled in the Lok Sabha by Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi. According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures, around 8,100 cases of trafficking were recorded in India in 2016 and around 23,000 victims of trafficking were rescued the same year (61 per cent of these were children). Trafficking, under the Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), has been defined as “any act” of physical and sexual exploitation, slavery or practices similar to slavery and servitude. (IANS)