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Sex worker to cabbie, thank Renuka

New Delhi, Dec. 21: India’s sex trade victims may soon get an opportunity to drive taxis, work at beauty salons and nurse the aged instead of living a life confined to rehabilitation homes.

In a departure from convention, the Centre has decided to try “out-of-the-box” ideas to tackle the problems such women and children face in spite of several traditional schemes.

“It’s time we tried different tactics. Why should women rescued from trafficking be restricted to being trained to sew or do some dastkari (a Rajasthani handicraft)? We want to train them to drive cabs, work in beauty parlours and nurse the aged,” women and child development minister Renuka Chowdhury said.

The ministry has been granted a specific allocation for “innovative ideas” under the 11th five-year plan, which will be used to implement programmes that were not possible before, sources said.

Confirming the “innovative ideas” project, Chowdhury said she wanted to enlist corporates to assist her with the initiative.

The minister has already met industry leaders once — earlier this month — and will soon meet them again.

In a separate meeting to be held in January, Chowdhury said she would ask fast food giants like McDonald’s, Domino’s and Pizza Hut to use their reach to help reduce crimes against girls and women.

“They can splash our messages on the paper mats and trays used to serve burgers, fries and pizzas,” Chowdhury said.

Her comments were made in the context of the central government’s plans to celebrate International Women’s Day — March 8 — next year in a grand manner.

“We will not celebrate just one day, but the whole of March. We want these fast food companies to join us... to use their popularity to help us,” she said.

The messages could be in the form of warnings against foetal sex determination or could urge parents to keep girl children in school till the age of 18, Chowdhury said, clarifying that she was citing possible examples.

Earlier this month, Chowdhury handed 56 Mumbai women keys to taxis they now own and drive.

“The women rescued from trafficking can also work in old-age homes, taking care of the elderly. We will tie up with the Red Cross society,” she said.

Several rescued women have been forced to return to the sex trade because of lack of funds to support their families.

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