Sex workers festival begins in Kolkata Wednesday

Kolkata, Jan 28 (IANS) A six-day sex workers festival, focusing on the prevention of trafficking of minors and strengthening the perspective of sex workers on their basic and fundamental rights, begins here Wednesday.

The festival would be attended by thousands of members of the community from 14 states.
Themed around ‘Protibade Nari, Protirodhe Nari’ (Protest by women, Prevention by women), the festival is being hosted by the Durbar Mahila Samanway Committee (DMSC), a sex workers collective in West Bengal.
Around 3,000 sex workers are expected to attend the event every day at the city’s Triangular Park till Feb 3.
“Since the venue is small, around 3,000 participants can be accommodated per day. So there will be a system of rotation. Through film screenings, theatre, dance etc., we will highlight brave women to inspire the community,” the committee’s spokesperson Mahasweta Mukherjee, told IANS.
“This Festival and mela (fair) will be taking forward the fight against all forms of exclusion that the community faces,” said Smarajit Jana, prinipcal, Sonagachhi Research and Training Institute.
“It will create a coherent response among all stakeholders, including policy makers, through a series of interactive seminars and workshops on various policies and legal issues such as Social Inclusion, Right to Information (RTI), Right to Education (RTE), Food Security Act and livelihood” said Jana, a key functionary of the DMSC.
Lov Verma, secretary of the union government’s AIDS Department, and Ganesh Ramakrishnan, head of the Avahan Project on HIV prevention, are expected to address the gathering Feb 2.
“Since the main focus of the festival will be on reducing all forms of violence, the reduction and prevention of trafficking of minors and on strengthening the perspective of sex workers on their basic and fundamental rights, experts from flagship programmes such as Rural Livelihood will be addressing the festival,” Jana said.
Leaders of unorganised workers like Baba Adhav, Poornima Chickermane and Bezwada Wilson will address the participants, alongside RTI activists Venakatesh Nayak and Amrita Johri.