New Delhi, Aug. 24: The Supreme Court has expressed disappointment over the Bengal governments approach to its orders on rehabilitating sex workers, saying they needed skills to earn a livelihood instead of being sent to welfare homes.
They must be provided a marketable technical skill so they can earn their livelihood instead of selling their bodies. Merely sending them to homes is sending them to starvation. We were, therefore, disappointed by the approach of the state of West Bengal, where the problem is most acute. Much more needs to be done by the state government, a bench of Justices Markandey Katju and Gyansudha Mishra said.
The court expressed surprise that the state didnt have convincing figures on those rehabilitated so far. It is well known that Calcutta has a huge number of sex workers in Sonagachi, Free School Street etc, the court said, adding short stay homes were hardly a solution.
Some NGOs have told an apex court-appointed panel on the issue that the homes run under state-sponsored schemes are virtual prisons.
Sunanda Bose of the All Bengal Womens Union said mere vocational training would not work as the women often earned more in sex work than in several other jobs. More innovative options have to be offered, she said, citing the example of a sex worker who is now a petrol pump operator earning around Rs 7,000 per month.
The court also went through the reports submitted by some other states such as Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Haryana and the central government. The bench expressed unhappiness that Delhi did not even have a rehab scheme for sex workers.