Separate booth for sex workers in West Bengal polls

Last Updated: Friday, April 8, 2011 - 23:36

Kalyani: In a bid to woo voters in the
West Bengal`s red light areas, the Election Commission has supported a move to have a separate booth for sex workers in
Nadia district where polling will be held on April 23.

"The Election Commission has granted a special booth
to be used exclusively by sex workers of Shantipur in Nadia at
our proposal," District Magistrate Sanjay Bansal told PTI
here.

Four female election department workers will be in charge
of the booth at Durgamani High School in the red light area, Bansal said.
The names of 75 sex workers and their families existed
on the electoral rolls in Shantipur constituency, but only 20
per cent turned up to vote in the last elections.

After observing that the majority of sex workers stayed
away from voting as they faced insults from other people in
the queue, the Nadia administration took the step of arranging
an exclusive booth, said Bansal.

"When we came to know the reason why many sex workers
did not turn up to vote, we stepped in and informed the State
Election Commission for allowing a separate booth for them.
This was forwarded to the Election Commission of India,"
Bansal said.

"The Commission granted permission for a separate
booth. The move is rare in India and probably for the first
time in West Bengal," Bansal said.
The Nadia administration also enlisted new names of
sex workers from the red light area with the rolls having 122
additional ones to the existing 75, taking the total to 197.

The permission for a separate booth was granted a day
before Holi and the sex workers received the news by dabbing colours on each other.
Some sex workers, however, were not happy with the
arrangement as they felt a separate booth would further
isolate them.

"Maybe, it is a good effort, but from the other point
of view we will be isolated from the society when a separate
booth is arranged for us," said a sex worker requesting
anonymity.

PTI



First Published: Friday, April 8, 2011 - 23:36

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