Sex workers rally for justice in Sonagachhi murder case

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Kolkata
  • Updated: Jan 21, 2015 14:25 IST

Sex workers and activists under the banner Apne Aap Women Worldwide took out a candlelight march in the Sonagachhi area on Tuesday, demanding action against culprits in the murder of Sathi Das, a 26-year-old sex worker.

The 26-year-old was allegedly strangled to death by a client earlier this month. The police are yet to make any arrest in the case.

Activists claimed some brothel owners and pimps have been pressuring the victim’s kin and the police to drop the case, so the business can continue uninterrupted.

Speaking to this correspondent, Taw Nana, an activist, said, “Such incidents with sex workers of Sonagachhi have been on the rise. Several murder cases have been hushed up. Unable to bear the violence that they’re subjected to, many sex workers have committed suicide. The sex industry, led by an association in Sonagachhi, has been lobbying with the Union government to legalise pimping and brothel keeping.”

“The National Commission for Women has announced that it is not averse to legalising pimping and brothel keeping. This would only enable the sex-industry to get away with such incidents,” Ruchira Gupta, founder, Apne Aap, said.

The deceased 26-year-old had been a member of Apne Aap. She was trying to exit the dark world of flesh trade and take up acting offers on television to get by. Sources said she was murdered by a former client for rebuffing his advances.

The police have been accused of going easy on the case and not conducting a thorough probe into the killing.

The victim had reportedly been trafficked to Sonagachhi nine months back. She used to live in the building, which houses the field office of Apne Aap.

She attended adult education classes for about three months and was planning to take part in a livelihood-oriented initiative before she was killed.

The march, on Tuesday, was aimed at sending a clear message of solidarity with sex workers, who often face violence and abuse while in the trade, and demand action against all those guilty of violating them.

The rally kicked off from near the house of the 26-yearold. Many sex workers and members of NGO Deepika took part in the event.

A 22-year-old girl whose mother had been forced into prostitution, said, “I grew up in a redlight area and have been witness to many murders. Such incidents don’t affect me as much as it used to earlier. We’re used to being treated like dirt.”

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