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

RSS wanted Constitution 'replaced' by Manusmriti which abused Dalits, women

By Shamsul Islam* The Constituent Assembly of India finalized the Constitution of India on November 26, 1949 which is celebrated as the Constitution Day This Constitution promised new born Indian Republic a polity based on democracy, justice, egalitarianism and rule of law. However, RSS was greatly annoyed. Four days after the historic event of approval of it, the RSS English “Organiser” in an editorial on November 30, 1949, complained:

Nuclear energy 'can't solve' global warming, will 'strain' financial, natural resource

Counterview Desk  Taking strong exception to Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who has favoured nuclear energy as a solution to global warning, well-known power and policy analyst Shankar Sharma has said that the IAEA chief's “unsubstantiated advocacy” of nuclear power is associated with “diversion of considerable amounts of scarce resources, both financial as well as natural, of many developing countries, such as India.”

Covid taught us: Exams are cruel process of 'eliminating' those seeking education

By Sandeep Pandey, Seema Muniz, Gopal Krishna Verma* Some people are disheartened with the disruption in children’s education due to the menace of Covid and the successive lockdowns. While a number of children are getting used to attending online classes, their counterparts from the weaker socio-economic backgrounds continue to struggle either because of unfamiliarity with technology or because of having to share a single device with their siblings and/or parents. More unfortunate ones have been completely pushed out of the system which has resulted in the virtual drop in the rate of enrolment.

Book on Bhil rebels offers other side of history, neglected by 'nationalist' historians

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  One of the major accusations against Indian historians is that of neglecting and ignoring the role of the marginalised in the freedom struggle. Most of the time, we are ‘informed’ that there were some ‘heroes’ and ‘villains’ of the freedom movement, all of them belonging to the same stock of caste as well as ‘power’ positions as their opponents.

Mysterious death of Kishenji 'triggered' series of splits in Maoist camp in India

By Harsh Thakor* On November 24 fell the 10th death anniversary of Kishenji, a prominent Maoist leader, he was also a poet, a scientist, and a soldier. Since his school days he dreamt of planting the seed to create new man. Born in 1954 in Peddapally town (in Karimnagar district, north Telangana), Kishenji was raised by his father Venkataiah (a “freedom fighter”, he called him) and a progressive mother, Madhuramma.

Govt of India responsible for 71% delays in NREGA wage payments, say economists

Counterview Desk  In an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, more than 70 economists have urged the Government of India to release “adequate funds” for implementing the rural jobs guarantee scheme under the MGNREGA immediately, pointing out that the pandemic continues to adversely affect the living condition of working families.

Learning to bridge 'huge chasm' between highly educated, illiterate, badly literate

By Shrey Ostwal, Sandeep Pandey*  The pivotal point of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s journey to become Mahatma Gandhi began when his “political guru” – Gopal Krishna Gokhale – advised young Mohandas to travel around India. This rigorous journey was essential for Mohandas to understand his country and countrypersons better if he were to fight the inhumane and unempathetic British regime which had been looting India of its glory for about two centuries then.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Arrest of top J&K civil society leader shows contempt for international law: PUCL

Counterview Desk  Commenting on the arrest of Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez, India’s top human rights advocacy group, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), has said that the Government of India action is “one more attempt ... to silence peaceful, non-violent dissenters”, adding, it suggests how “a brutalizing state machinery" has been acting.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".