Muktir Alo – A home for aged, homeless sex workers
November 24, 2013
Sonagachi is home to over 10,000 sex workers, many of whom are trafficked from neighbouring Bangladesh and Nepal.
The buildings in this area house 6,000 brothel-based sex workers while those from the 4,000-odd 'flying' segment return home after their daily trade.
Responding to the plight of aged, infirm sex workers who are no longer in the trade, the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government has decided to rehabilitate them in a home.
A survey, led by Kolkata Municipal Corporation's mayoral council member Shashi Panja, identified as many as 789 elderly sex workers who are so infirm that they cannot even go door-to-door for begging.
The government has identified an old two-storey building near the Tollygunge area where the rehabilitation centre for the aging sex workers and a residential school for sex workers' children will be housed.
Named 'Muktir Alo' (Light of freedom), the new address will accommodate at least 100 sex workers in the first phase.
The first hundred inmates will be decided through a lottery. While the housing department will renovate the building, the finance department will sanction Rs 50 crore annually for the project.
It was a brainchild of our chief minister after she came to know about retired sex workers. She asked me to conduct a survey focusing on the condition of retired and ill sex workers. I submitted the report and accordingly a house has been identified for the purpose of accommodating at least 100 sex workers who have retired from the trade. There will be a residential school for sex workers' children as well in the two-storey building.
--- Shashi Panja
The government will increase the number of rehabilitation homes in the future.
"It is a very noble initiative by the state government. So far they (aged sex workers) have not received any such help from the administration. It is good that the administration thought of something positive for them also," Bharati Dey of Durbar, a voluntary organisation working for the welfare of sex workers, said.
Very good decision. All of them should be given proper homes as they grow old.
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