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Report on Sex Worker Freedom Festival in Calcutta

23 July 2012

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News Track India

Kolkata plays host to sex workers conference

Kolkata, Sun, 22 Jul 2012

Kolkata, July 22 (ANI): Sex workers from over 41 countries, who were
denied permission to attend the International AIDS Conference in the
U.S., held a parallel conference here.

Titled the Sex Worker Freedom Festival, the weeklong conference that
commenced on Saturday was organised by the Durbar Mahila Samanvaya
Committee (DMSC), and was attended by over 550 sex workers.

The global coordinator of the Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP),
Ruth Morgan Thomas, said the U.S. has been hypocritical in not
allowing sex workers to attend the conference.

"The Sex Worker Freedom Festival is organised because of the US travel
restrictions. They prevented sex workers from all over the world from
going to the Washington AIDS Conference. We are here to talk about our
rights," Thomas said.

She added the conference would provide an insight regarding the rights
of sex workers and will help in taking initiatives that would help to
eradicate AIDS.

Sex workers at the conference complained that they are not considered
a part of society.

"In my country, sex work is not considered as work. We go to jail or
they discriminate against us," said a sex worker form Serbia, Radha.

DMSC member Smarajit Jana said that from last 20 years, significant
change has been brought by the sex workers community to check AIDS.
However, society did not respond to their call that they should be
considered as full citizen of the country, he added.