ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s sex workers have faced fundamental rights violations including unlawful detention and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, a representative of the Abhimani Women’s Collective said at a conference yesterday (26).
“Following their arrest, sex workers frequently experience the infringement of their fundamental rights, including the right to fair treatment, due process and protection from cruel and inhumane treatment,” said a report by the Abhimani Women’s Collective.
Soliciting on the street is currently illegal under section 7 1 (a) of the Vagrants Ordinance which criminalizes ‘any person in and about any public place soliciting any person for the commission of any act or of illicit sexual intercourse or indecency.
This provision along with section 2 of the Brothel’s Ordinance, which criminalizes the aiding and abetting of the management of a brothel, has been used to arrest sex workers in the country.
However, many sex workers claim that they have been presented before court on false charges of drug possession and have been subjected to harassment by both Police and customers.
“When inquiries are made over our arrest, the police say that we have been charged with drug possession,” Sakuni Mayadunna, a sex worker, said.
“Prostitution is not legal in Sri Lanka, so therefore, sex workers will face problems,” Chief of Police in charge of the Child and Women Abuse Prevention, Renuka Jayasundara, said.
“However, every citizen has fundamental rights in this country. We have not authorized the Police to carry out actions such as hitting detainees or not providing a female officer. If those actions happen, a complaint must be filed.”
Attorney-at-Law for the legal aid commission, Ganga Somarathna, said that the legal aid commission provides legal support for such victims whose income is below 45,000 rupees and also for women and children. (Colombo/Sep27/2023)