A sex worker from Ajmer, Rajasthan, Shehnaz Begum (named changed) does not want her children to follow in her footsteps. “We earn to help them stand on their own feet and not become like us,” she says.
Shehnaz has come to Delhi to attend a two-day convention on protecting the rights and dignity of sex workers organized by the All India Network of Sex Workers (AINSW).
Like Shehnaz, there were hundreds who had arrived from different parts of the country to make their presence felt in the Capital and also send across a message to the government that ‘sex workers or labourers’ be given the same status as any other labourer in society.
“I am in this occupation for the past 9 years. We just want the government to legalise sex work. We earn for our children. Now if the government stops us from plying this trade then they’ll also become sex workers like us,” said Shehnaz, who is also working with an NGO to create awareness about c among sex workers.
“I chose this occupation out of need and compulsion. My husband met with an accident and my kids were small. There was no other earning member in the family. So the situation forced me into this profession,” she added.
Shehnaz has two daughters and two sons.
They are also against the government’s impending move to criminalise sex work, which restricts them running the business in a rented house.