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Saturday, September 30, 2023

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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Fast track court needed


March 8 was International Women’s Day; yet it remains a scandal that one in ten women in Meghalaya, sex workers in particular, are still assaulted and abused on a regular basis. A few days back, NSWP in Scotland, United Kingdom hit back at the Meghalaya government for sidelining sex workers and also condemned a group for boycotting RAM’s planned event to observe International Sex Workers’ Rights Day in their locality causing a global outrage. This incident has hit the headlines of several newspapers across the globe. Sex workers from across the world have demanded the Meghalaya government intervene and respond to the voice of sex workers in the state immediately.

Although the sex workers’ issue here in Meghalaya was highlighted just a year back on March 10, 2021, the movement, however, has made huge strides over the years across the globe. Still, the sad fact of the matter is: Sex workers here in Meghalaya still got a lot of work to do and “sex work” remains a controversial topic. In spite of a plethora of data proving that sex workers are not treated equally to other women in Meghalaya, many people disagree arguing that sex workers already are equal to other women; yet harassment and assault is common and reporting such abuse is often unattractive for sex workers due to retaliation and lack of consequences for abusers.

Through the columns of your esteemed daily, I, a social worker and former sex worker, would also like to express my feeling about the safety of sex workers in the state. When we turn the pages of a newspaper, we come across many headlines reporting cases of ill treatment of sex workers and violence against them. The crime comes amid heightened concerns about sexual violence in this country. It is also evident that this so-called ‘Ri Tip-Briew Tip-Blei’ can no longer claim to be safe for the growing number of working women. We must have remedial or curative measures such as fast track courts especially dedicated to deal only with these offences and crimes. These can be made responsible to clear the cases on day-to-day basis with fair trial as its core principle. The law should be strong enough so that nobody could ever imagine of doing such things. It is time the Meghalaya government undertakes drastic measures to put an end to crime against women and sex workers.

Vera Marbaniang
Wahingdoh, Shillong

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