印度性工作及同性戀除罪化大會

(2004.2.29)


在印度加爾各答省有一場約有五千位性工作者參與,會期一週的研討會。會中呼籲政府官員及立法者將性工作及同性戀除罪化。性工作者們認為這兩項提案通過的話,將會減少對他們的騷擾以及促進印度的愛滋防治工作。

雖然賣淫被捕會面臨一年的牢獄生活,但性工作者的身影仍是印度主要大城市中心和高速公路旁常見的景象。

在這場由性工作者國家網絡主辦,從星期三起舉行的研討會中,與會的性工作者表示性工作除罪將會使性工作者免於警察的騷擾,和脫離皮條客與黑道的控制。

他們也認為一條「同性戀即罪犯」的法律,從英國殖民政府在二十世紀初期引進印度沿用至今,使得同性戀者怯於接受接受愛滋治療。依據這條法律,同性戀者會面臨十年以上的刑罰。

印度的愛滋人口在世界排名僅次於南非,但是因為害怕刑罰與汙名烙印,許多受到感染的同性戀者都不敢公開。

一個男性工作者Rahul Das說,“同性情慾其實很普遍,只是沒有人敢承認,因為我們知道公開的後果就是遭到他人的侮辱嘲笑。”“大多數的同性戀者都很怕社會的目光和那條法律。”

星期四,帳篷裡一個年輕男子揮舞著他塗滿寇丹的長指甲,高分貝訴說他身為男性工作者所面臨的問題。“最近有個男性工作者被三個男人強暴。我們向警察投訴,只換來警察的嘲笑說「男人怎麼會被強暴?」”說話的是Bipul Chakraborty,今年27歲,他的聽眾則是來自加爾各答最密集的紅燈區,Songachi,的女性工作者。

“我們面臨的問題跟你們一樣,我們希望藉由你們的組織力來幫我們改善現況。”他說。

根據Durbar Mahika Samanway委員會(加爾各答的女性工作者論壇)統計,印度約有兩百萬名女性工作者。男性工作者的數目尚無資料,但據官方及非官方組織統計,光是加爾各答一地就有五千多名。印度的性工作者國家網絡不只遊說陳情性工作除罪,也舉辦反愛滋活動、健康診療和為性工作者的孩子規劃未來發展計畫。

“我們正努力為了達成目標而團結動員,我們也會持續爭取認同與尊嚴。”Chakraborty說。


29.02.2004

Calcutta, India


CALCUTTA, India­­­-Some 5,000 sex workers are holding a weeklong conference in this eastern city calling on the government officials and lawmakers to legalize prostitution and homosexuality, two moves the sex workers say would discourage harassment against them and buoy efforts to fight the spread of the dreaded AIDS disease in India.

Despite one-year prison sentences for prostitution, sex workers are a common sight in India's major urban centers and along highways.

Prostitutes at the conference, which started Wednesday and was organized by India's National Network of Sex Workers, say that legalizing the trade would help deter harassment by police, pimps and the mafia controlling the trade.

They also argue that abolishing a law that makes homosexuality a crime-introduced by British colonists in the early 20th century -would encourage gays suffering from AIDS to seek treatment. Under that law, homosexuals can be imprisoned for up to 10 years.

India has the world's second-highest number of AIDS patients after South Africa, but many gays with the disease are afraid to come forward, fearing punishment and the stigma attached to being homosexual.

"Homosexuality is rampant, but it's all hush-hush because we know if we come out in the open, we will be ridiculed," said male sex worker Rahul Das. "Most homosexuals are scared of the society and the draconian law.

On Thursday, a young man stood in a huge tent, raising his voice and jabbing the air with his long, painted fingernails to highlight his problems as a male sex worker.

"Recently a male sex worker was raped by three men. When we complained to police, they laughed and asked 'Can a man get raped?" said 27-year-old Bipul Chakraborty to an audience comprised mostly of women prostitutes in Calcutta's congested Songachi red-light district.

"Our problems are similar to yours and we expect you to help us through your organized movement," he said.

Last year, nearly 610,000 Indians contracted HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, increasing the overall number of infected Indians to about 4.5 million, according to a study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Women prostitutes number nearly two million in India, according to the Durbar Mahila Samanway Committee, a Calcutta-based women prostitutes' forum. Figures for male prostitutes weren't available, though there are nongovernment organizations and government records show there are 5,000 male sex workers in Calcutta alone.

India's National Network of Sex Workers runs anti-AIDS campaigns, health clinics and development programs for the children of sex workers besides lobbying for legalization of the sex trade.

"We are trying to unite for our cause and we will not give up our fight for recognition and dignity," Chakraborty said.


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