Resist Institutional Bigotry and Violence Against Sex Workers NOW!
We condemn the violence unleashed by the Sub Inspector of Police of Dwaraka Tirumala police station, Nr. Sudhir Babu against four sex workers who were merely commuting from Eluru to Lakshmipuram. He blocked the auto the workers were travelling in, with his jeep, and forcefully dragged them out to interrogate them. On calmly replying to him regarding their work and details of travel, he aggressively beat all four of them. Amongst the four workers, one of the workers was severely beaten up and injured. The worker repeatedly tried to explain that she was the sole breadwinner of her family and had to feed her children. Despite the pleas of the four sex workers, he continued to mercilessly tackle them. When questioned by the activists, Sudhir Babu falsely claims that he was trying to prevent Road Accidents.
The actions of Sudhir Babu are an assault on the Indian constitution and are illegal. In Francis Coralie Mullin vs Administration, the apex court expanded the ambit of Article 21 and explicitly included the acknowledgement of bare necessities of life such as adequate nutrition, clothing, and shelter along with the right to perform functions and participate in activities which form the bare minimum expression of the human-self. Sex workers are historically dehumanized and marginalized. They are subjected to overwhelming social stigma and institutional violence. In this event of police brutality against the four workers, their basic right to live with human decency and dignity has been grossly breached.
Further, in contravention of Article 14, they were differentially treated due to the nature of their work. In Budhadev Karmaskar vs West Bengal, the court recognized that the unfortunate reality was that sex workers constituted a class whose rights are not even considered. The Supreme court clearly expressed the disallowance of violence by police personnel against sex workers. The court specifically mentioned that the constitutional rights of sex workers must be realised and they should be treated as equals with dignity and respect. Therefore, it is well-established that ‘police should not verbally or physically abuse sex workers.’
In this incident, the sex workers were not only publicly humiliated and degraded but were violently assaulted. The Supreme court has issued guidelines to prevent police brutality to ensure that human dignity is not wounded. In the D.K Basu case, the supreme court decided that police personnel cannot exercise abuse of their powers and compromise on human values. It has been affirmatively upheld by the courts of India that police are liable for torturing any person and misusing their powers.
We strongly reprimand such undemocratic, unconstitutional and discriminatory violence against sex workers. We must resist institutional bigotry and oppression of sex workers.
Statement by Me and My World, and WINS -Andhra Pradesh and Telangana