April 04, 2006 00:52 IST
Over 3 lakh sex workers, their children and clients across West Bengal have threatened to boycott the forthcoming assembly elections opposing proposed amendments to the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act which, they said would infringe on their rights and force the trade to go "underground".
More than 65,000 sex workers, their families and clients on Monday created a flutter with a poll boycott call forcing the ruling Left Front constituents CPI (M) and Forward Bloc to come out with assurances to oppose the proposed bill in the monsoon session of Parliament.
"The 1956 act has been amended twice earlier keeping the interest of sex workers in mind. But this time, the proposed amendment will make life hell for sex workers and their dependents," said Asha Banerjee, joint secretary of the conglomerate of sex workers Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, which is leading a movement alongside the three crore strong National Network of Sex Workers.
The bill proposes to amend four clauses — 3.1, 4, 5.3 and 13.2 — of IT(P)A making it illegal for landlords to allow setting up of brothels, restricting sex workers to directly support anyone through their income, restricting clients to visit brothels by introducing a sexual exploitation clause and empowering local police to raid brothels instead of specially trained personnel from IT(P)A cells.