Saturday November 11 2006
`Repeal laws against those with different preferences'
Rainbow Planet's call against hegemony of attitudes
Demand for sex work to be recognised as a viable livelihood option Unified immigration law in SAARC countries to stop child trafficking
NOTE: The demand to recognize "sex work" as a viable livelihood option is NOT a view shared by GSN
IN FULL ENTHUSIASM: An antique percussionist troupe `Tapu' performing at the India Social Forum in New Delhi on Friday. Photo: V.V. Krishnan
NEW DELHI: "Unjust laws, which stigmatise and create the conditions for violence against us be repealed including laws against sodomy, sex work and all laws that criminalise adult consensual sexual activity." These were the voices of resistance from activists of Rainbow Planet, an organisation that supports the concept of judging not but supporting sexual preferences at the India chapter of the ongoing World Social Forum here.
Rainbow Planet believes that mainstream society marginalises, stigmatises, and creates conditions for violence against sexual outlaws including sex workers, sexuality minorities and People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA). The organisation is a diverse coalition of progressive groups working for the rights of sexuality minorities, sex workers and PLHA in India. The coalition at the World Social Forum, in Mumbai in 2004 had strongly influenced activists and social movements to recognise their legitimate struggle for human rights.
Activists at a seminar sought conditions to be created for the free exercise for sexual choice so that they are free to determine their sexual relationships, be it for procreation, pleasure or livelihood. "The hegemony of the mainstream attitudes to sexuality as embodied in social practices, laws and public opinion be challenged and all of us become free to practise different relational forms outside conventional hetero-patriarchal marriage and family," the participants said.
There was a demand for sex work to be recognised as a viable livelihood option for men, women and transgenders having the right to earn and live by making money from sex. "We protest against a society that forces on us the violence of stigma and oppression. We must have the right to decide and freely express our gender, including trans-sexual, transgender and hijras," they said.
Sex workers collectives from across the country demanded the repeal of the ITPA (Immoral Traffic Prevention) Bill. More than 1,000 women in sex work representing collectives such as `Sangram' (Maharashtra), WINS (Andhra Pradesh), Durbar Mahila Samanvay Committee (West Bengal) and Godavari Mahila Samakhya (Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh) raised a common voice at the India Social Forum (ISF).
The women's key concern was the proposed amendment of the ITPA Act that, they alleged, criminalised the clients of sex workers. The Bill is due to be tabled in the coming winter session of the Parliament.
At another platform the brutal killing of 12 Adivasis, protesting against their displacement from their land in January, also came up for discussion. "On the one hand, it is the neo-liberal political and economic discourse backed by State power, which is on an overdrive in the Adivasi heartland leading to their exclusion and alienation from their fundamental rights and entitlements over productive and livelihood resources land, water and forest. And, on the other hand, it is the rich and long history of people-led Adivasi struggle for dignity and rights over the past three centuries, against hegemonic and imperialist forces in its different avatars," the participants said.
Justice for all
In the children's corner or Baal Chaupal, the children got together to aspire for a new world. "We children have come to the India Social Forum with a dream for such a world where everyone gets justice. Where there is no fear of war, and everyone shares everything and lives happily. A better world for children like you and me," read the slogan.
The Campaign Against Child Labour (CACT) sought recognition of child trafficking as a blatant violation of child rights, political commitment and action by policymakers and planners to stop child trafficking within the country and across borders and a unified immigration law in SAARC countries and other necessary measures at the regional level providing amnesty for trafficked children.
In the adjoining session, the National Centre for Labour (NCL) activists called upon the unorganised workers in the country to unite against oppression and marginalisation and to press for protective legislations and social security.