The All India Network of Sex Workers will set up RTI centres in the four metros – Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai – to enable community members get information from government officers in their fight to get their rightful place in society.
“The AINSW will have one RTI centre each in four metropolises – Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. It will use RTI as a tool to get information from all government officers across the states,” the organisation’s principal advisor Smarajit Jana said addressing a session at the Sex Workers’ Festival here.
The pilot project will start functioning in Kolkata from March 3, the eve of International Sex Workers Day, and those at Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai will follow, said Jana.
Right to Information activist Venkatesh Nayak said enhancing skills for using RTI should be an integral component of efforts to make marginal and vulnerable communities like sex workers, gays and transgenders seek their proper position in society.
“Marginalised groups like sex workers, MSMs (men who have sex with men) and transgenders are often at the receiving end of the law, primarily because they are information poor.
“Lack of awareness about their rights and the government’s apathy prevent them from actively participating in the democratic process,” said Nyak, who is associated with Commonwealth Human Rights Initiatives and the co-convener of National Campaign for People’s Right to Information.
“Enhancing skills for using RTI should be an integral component of the efforts to make them seek rightful place in society and equal share in the process of decision-making with regards to social and economic development,” he said.
Over 200 women leaders representing sex workers’ groups from 16 states of the country participated in the session.
AINSW president Bharati Dey said during raids, police arbitrarily take away girls and refuse to share necessary information about those they book under various sections.
“This is against the law. Sex workers, just like any other Indian citizen, have all the right to question the government because we chose them and they are answerable to us too.”