The Durbar Mahila Samanway Committee (DMSC), a sex workers' collective has set up a Right to Information (RTI) centre on Monday at a red-light area in Kolkata marking International Sex Workers Day. The RTI centre will be providing information to sex workers. The sex workers' collective also held a rally in the city. More than 1,500 sex workers participated in the rally seeking recognition by the government and demanding they be brought under a government pension scheme.
"The idea behind the RTI centre is to boost up confidence of sex workers in accessing information regarding government schemes as well as about their rights," said DMSC chief adviser Smarajit Jana. A helpline number to address issues of sex workers will also be set up by the end of this year.
"Sex workers and their family members can't access various social entitlements which are offered to general citizens. We consider sex work to be like any other occupation belonging to the unorganised sector and we should be brought under universal pension scheme provided by the government," said Bharati Dey of the All India Network of Sex Workers (AINSW). Dey also said that a working knowledge about relevant legislation had become an urgent necessity for sex workers as they were helpless in the face of frequent harassment by the police.
The International Sex Workers Rights Day started in 2001 when 25, 000 sex workers gathered in Kolkata, India for a sex workers’ festival.