Kolkata: A group of organisations have launched a campaign against a move by UN Women, a United Nations organisation dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, to decriminalise pimping, buying sex and brothel-keeping.
"Such a move will fuel huge sex-trafficking as those who buy and sell women will get off scot free," Ruchira Gupta of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, an anti-sex trafficking NGO, told reporters here today.
More than 1,000 individuals and organisations representing victims and survivors, women and dalits have signed a petition that the NGO would submit to UN Women in Delhi on January 7.
The petition addressed to Phumzile Mlambo Ngucak, Executive Director of UN Women, said "We think that the attempts in UN documents to call us `sex workers` legitimises violence against women, especially women of discriminated caste, poor men and women, and women and men from minority groups, who are the majority of the prostituted."
Gupta said the UN Women note and the UNAIDS recommendations were in violation of agreed upon protocols and conventions that India and other member states of the UN were party to.
"This back door attempt to push through policies without getting the formal agreement of member states is a dangerous precedent," she said.
The UN Women was recommending decriminalisation of pimping and brothel-keeping to reduce HIV/AIDS of those in prostitution.
The activists held that the recommendations were a violation of UN Protocol to End Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children 2000, and Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of Prostitution of Others, 1949.
Petitioners also objected to UN Women recommending that sexual exploitation be termed `sex work`.
It was estimated by the CBI that there were three million women and girls in prostitution in India, of which 1.4 million were women.
The average age of entry into prostitution was between nine and thirteen, according to the National Human Rights Commission.
The majority of the prostituted were girls and women from scheduled castes and other backward classes.