Sex workers will teach the police in the state a lesson. Officially.
State police training institutes will now have commercial sex workers holding class in an effort to address the sex workers’ complaint of police harassment.
Ceaseless complaints by sex workers and pressure from international HIV/ AIDS prevention and control agencies prompted the state to place sex workers in classrooms to teach trainee constables about HIV.
“The plan will be implemented in batches admitted this year,” home department principal secretary Chandra Iyenger said.
To mitigate the conflicts, the home department has also started a monthly meeting between sex workers, activists and the police top brass. “The first such meeting this month was attended by the commissioner,” she said.
Iyengar said the police have never been “in such a quandary and under this kind of pressure” before now.
“In many cases, it is difficult for the police to handle the situation. For instance, during altercations that may take place when sex workers refuse customers,” she said.
“The police have to be extremely sensitive now as a false move can jeopardise the HIV prevention movement. Hence, sex workers, many of whom are already working as peer educators in various NGOs, will instruct the police trainees.”
Iyengar also affirmed that any organisation, union or body formed by the sex workers was not illegal. “They have the right to seek protection under the law of the land as well,” she said.
The first batch of 11,000 constables will complete its course soon. While personnel in Mumbai and Thane are the first to get the training, it will soon be extended to other parts of the state.
“We are coordinating with the NGOs on developing course material and getting trainers from among the sex workers in Mumbai and Thane.”