“NCW Sponsored CWL Seminar on Challenges Faced by Sex Workers and Their Children – 6th October 2023”

On October 6th, the Centre for Women and Law (CWL), in partnership with the National Commission for Women (NCW), hosted a seminal seminar addressing the myriad challenges encountered by sex workers and their children. This seminar sought to illuminate the legal, educational, health, and occupational hurdles that have long marginalized this vulnerable community. The CWL, National Law University, Odisha, and the National Commission for Women, a governmental body promoting women's rights, collaborated to raise awareness and advocate for gender-specific issues.

Sex workers and their children grapple with a host of difficulties. They often face abuse from clients, family members, and authorities, with minimal legal protection. Access to critical health services, particularly for HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases, is a significant hurdle. Female sex workers are particularly susceptible to diseases due to high-risk sexual behaviours and substance use. Society frequently stigmatizes them, isolating them from mainstream society due to their mothers' profession.

Session 1: Insights from Lalitha S.A

Lalitha S.A., the vice president of the Society for Participatory Integrated Development (SPID), shared her experiences working with Devadasi women, highlighting their exploitation. Lalitha emphasized the need to protect vulnerable women and ensure their dignity. She was not in favour of legalizing prostitution, believing it could lead to further exploitation.

Session 2: Insights from Namrata Chadha

Namrata Chadha, a former member of the Odisha State Commission for Women, underscored the need for a compassionate approach toward sex workers and their children. She shared stories of women forced into sex work by their families and the challenges they faced. Namrata stressed the importance of providing immediate relief, including education for the children, and addressing societal stigmatization.

Session 3: Dr. Paromita Chattoraj

Dr. Paromita Chattoraj delved into the vulnerabilities faced by children born to sex workers. She highlighted the challenges these children encounter, including discrimination, lack of access to education and healthcare, and exposure to various forms of abuse. Dr. Chattoraj emphasized the importance of providing legal protection and support for these children.

Session 4: Dr. Sohini Mahapatra

Dr. Sohini Mahapatra discussed recognizing sex work as a legitimate profession, granting sex workers their employment rights. She emphasized challenging societal stereotypes and advocating for legislative provisions to protect sex workers' rights.

The seminar showcased pressing issues faced by sex workers and their children and proposed solutions to improve their conditions. The importance of adopting a compassionate and comprehensive approach to address these complex challenges was highlighted. In a society striving for progress and equality, it is vital to extend empathy and support to even the most marginalized communities. The seminar on sex workers and their children served as a powerful platform to shed light on their challenges and advocate for their rights and dignity.

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National Law University Odisha

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