The 50-lakh-strong community of sex workers in India is seriously considering to opt for the NOTA option while exercising their franchise in the Lok Sabha election to register protest against deprivation and apathy.
Since independence, political parties of all hues have promised development for the community, but they are all just promises, president of All India Network for Sex Workers (AINSW) Bharati Dey said. "What did we get after 67 years of Independence? We are still treated as if we are a baggage for the society. The country will soon have its 16th Lok Sabha, but we are yet to get any benefits of development," Dey told PTI.
No political party bothered to act on promises made to them while seeking votes. Once the election was over, all of them conveniently forgot the sex workers' existence, Dey complained, adding they felt frustrated. The AINSW is a network representing the voice of sex workers spread across 16 states and also serves as an umbrella body for 90 smaller bodies across the country.
She pointed out that more than 80% of sex workers possessed voter identity cards and they have their family members too. "So you can fairly guess how many votes we command. May be we are a minority, but minority votes do make a difference," Dey, who also heads the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, a sex workers' organisation which has one lakh 30 thousand registered Sex workers under it, said.
Asked what they would do if the exercising the NOTA option failed to move the political parties, she said that the next line of action would be obviously to fight election themselves. "We can't straightway win, but we can eat into the voter base of political parties," Dey said with a wry smile.