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Of sex and electoral politics
M Chhaya in Kolkata |
March 20, 2004 01:46 IST
Kolkata Mayor Subrata Mukherjee's constituency of Kolkata Northwest has about 15,000 sex workers, and he, it seems, doesn't want to miss out on their votes in the general election.
So he has hit upon the idea of lending support to sex workers' demand for 'industrial worker' status to them.
"I will grant sex workers trade licence," Mukherjee, a key member of West Bengal's main opposition party, the Trinamool Congress, has announced.
He said it wasn't his concern whether sex work was illegal. "Whether a trade is illegal is for the government to decide. My job is to ensure that anyone who trades has a licence to do so."
If the mayor keeps his promise it would tantamount to violation of Indian laws, which prohibit prostitution.
However, Mukherjee has said he would not be able to issue trade licences to prostitutes before the May 10 polls in the state.
The mayor, however, insisted his move was not politically motivated. "This has nothing to do with elections," he said, but added: "if I'm elected, I will fight to demand workers' rights for sex workers."
The unexpected support has made sex workers happy. A delegation from the city's Sonagachi area, which falls under Mukherjee's constituency, met him this week.