Skip to main content

Civil society gears up to protest "disparaging" remarks on sex workers, transgenders by Govt of India minister

By Our Representative
A civil society group has floated a memorandum taking strong exception to what it calls "disparaging anti-women, anti sex-worker and anti-transgender person remarks in Parliament" this week by Maneka Gandhi, Minister, Women and Child Development, Government of India, during the discussion on Anti-Trafficking Bill, 2018. Released by members of the Coalition on Inclusive Approach and proposed to be given to the minister, it seeks signatures from concerned citizens.
"In case you wish to endorse, please send in your name via WhatsApp and/or e-mail to Shakun @  9448480954 | shakun00@gmail.com" it says.
***
Text of the memorandum:
We the undersigned organisations and individuals strongly condemn the disparaging remarks made by you as the Minister for Women and Child Department, particularly against sex workers and transgender persons while responding to some objections raised on the Anti-Trafficking Bill 2018 on 26th, July 2018. We represent 250 organisations working across the country with women, children, sex workers, transgender individuals, workers in the informal economy including bonded labour, garment workers, domestic workers and construction workers, under the banner of the Coalition on an Inclusive Approach to the Trafficking Bill, working to ensure that the Bill does not criminalise and further stigmatise the vulnerable communities it purports to save and rehabilitate.
Many of the statements you made not only reinforce our apprehensions about the apparently draconian approach of the Bill but they also reinforce the stigma, marginalisation, violence and discrimination faced by these communities on a daily basis. Specifically, while responding Dr Shashi Tharoor’s comprehensively argued critique you suggestively and contemptuously stated, “Here I will be wicked. There are two types of representatives who came to me. One was the Victims of Trafficking and the other was sex workers. Dr Tharoor accompanied the sex workers."
At another point you shockingly claimed that you did not know how to address transgender persons and in fact referred to them as ‘other ones’, laughing and making gestures which clearly conveyed deep disrespect to the transgender persons’ lives, which are full of struggle, due to familial, societal and state neglect, discrimination and violence. This, coming from you, the Minister, has in a way, reinforced the prejudice that is still largely prevalent against transgender persons and we would like to place on record our utmost dismay at the same.
On both occasions it was equally distasteful and appalling to see that the men sitting behind you smirking and thumping the tables. Your inappropriate conduct indignified not just the significant, high office that you hold and the sanctity of Parliament, which represents the ‘will of the people’, but more importantly, the women and transgender individuals of this country.
We also wish to convey our appreciation of the Speaker who took exception to the laughter in the House and stated that there was nothing wrong or unparliamentarily in Dr Tharoor accompanying a delegation of sex workers to meet you since he was representing their interests. We also acknowledge the reaffirming remarks by Supriya Sule (MP) urging you not to address transgender persons as ‘other ones’ and address their concerns vis-à-vis the Anti-Trafficking Bill, 2018.
Your assertion also that it is time for the government to stop “tolerating” issues like begging, sex work etc. was disconcerting since you were presenting a Bill supposedly targeting criminals trafficking vulnerable people into begging, sex work etc and not these “victims” themselves. When vigilantes are today lynching suspected child lifters based only on rumours, irresponsible statements like these from law makers such as yourself will only serve to legitimise such vigilantism and jeopardise the lives of many in vulnerable situations.
Unfortunately, your statements serve to reinforce the growing divide between those working to stop trafficking through criminalisation and those addressing it through a more community-based approach that affirms the dignity and rights of the survivors of trafficking. While the former groups have been central to the process of the Bill, the latter have been kept out of all consultative processes despite the best efforts of many to over the past two years. Instead their efforts at engagement have been discredited and individuals demonised as “promoters” of trafficking.
We trust that you will formally withdraw your unparliamentarily and crude remarks about women and transgender individuals, and in the interests of democracy and justice take on board the concerns we have expressed such that the rights and dignity of adult sex workers, transgender persons, migrant workers, beggars and other vulnerable communities impacted by the Bill will be protected and restored.

Comments

TRENDING

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Union Budget 'moves away' from Right to Education, 1.3 lakh schools closed down

By Dr Aparajita Sharma*
It was a shocking reply by the Union human resource development minister to a question raised in Parliament on closure of schools in a country where lakhs of children are still out of school. On December 2, the minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, told Lok Sabha that the NITI Aayog’s education project, Sath-E, has led to 35,996 schools of different levels being merged in Madhya Pradesh, 4,312 in Jharkhand and 1,803 in Odisha. NITI Aayog is the Central Government’s policy think-tank.

CAA-NPR-NRC will 'target' 99% homeless, who are without birth certificates: NCU

Counterview Desk
Claiming to base on a survey in five states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu), which finds that over 99% of the homeless people do not have birth certificates, a civil rights organization which networks activists, researchers, urban practioners, lawyers, informal sector workers, has claimed that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as also the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), are likely to adversely impact this section the most.

Modi 'warned': Will not remain silent when women are labelled terrorists and traitors

Counterview Desk
As many as 13 women's rights organizations and 162 individuals have issued an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that in the light of hate speeches during Delhi elections, especially directed against women, it is his "Constitutional duty to protect all citizens" and tell his partymen "to fight the elections in a manner that upholds the Constitution, not one that increases the fear and insecurity among women."

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Anti-CAA: Mallika Sarabhai joins students, faculty to protest dy CM's 'divisive' talk

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to deputy chief minister Nitin Patel’s statement against those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), well-known danseuse Mallika Sarabhai has joined tens of activists and students and faculty of Gujarat University, CEPT University, Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, Gujarat Vidyapeeth and Nirma University to say that they are seeking “azadi” from the fascist and communal forces of the country.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.