After suffering the prolonged police brutality, sex workers in Bengaluru have come forward and raised their voices in hopes of seeking justice. On Tuesday, dozens of sex workers associated with Sadhana Mahila Sanghatana staged a protest outside the Women's Commission building on Dr Ambedkar Road.
The protestors carried placards that read, "We are not criminals" and some displayed photos of bruises they sustained as a result of alleged assault by police officers. The sex workers sang Kannada songs to highlight their stories, but are they heard?
The plight of Bengaluru sex workers
The protestors claim the sex workers have been treated inhumanely, faced threats, assault and no one bats an eye. According to TNM, which has reported the development, alleged that the police officers would click their photos and threatened to make them public.
"In the past two years, physical and mental violence against sex workers by the police and especially against the women in street sex work in different areas of Bengaluru city has been increasing. The police have been beating sex workers, publicly humiliating them and forcing them to pay money illegally in the form of "fines" without receipts. Women returning home have been beaten up and dragged to the police station, money is extorted from them with the threat of false cases," alleged the sex workers in their letter to the Chairperson of Women's Commission, Pramila Naidu.
One of the sex workers recalled when she was arrested while boarding the bus to go to court for a case hearing. The officer had allegedly threatened to book her for selling ganja if she was spotted in the locality. "They treat us like we are criminals, the dirt of the society," she said.
In the letter to the chairperson Naidu, the women said: "Every woman has a right to choose livelihood under Article 21 of the constitution and women in sex work are workers like any other workers. Supreme Court has categorically recognized that sex workers are not criminals, but are victims of economic necessity and circumstances. The Karnataka Police Department has itself issued circulars in 2004 prohibiting violence against sex workers."
Naidu has promised to do her best and loop in Bengaluru commissioner Kamal Pant to probe into the matter. Naidu also said that she will hold a meeting with the Nodal Officer for Trafficking in the matter, TNM reported.