SIRSA (HARYANA): Six members of Dera Sacha Sauda, a religious sect, will marry sex workers here Monday in keeping with their word on fighting for the rights of women who have been forced into prostitution.
Last month, members of the sect congregated in Delhi, announcing their initiative to fight trafficking of women, and took out a rally to spread their message. Nearly 1,400 male members of the sect gave their consent to marry sex workers.
"Just like we announced, the first batch of members of the Dera Sacha Sauda will tie the knot with sex workers tomorrow (Monday). We are, however, awaiting the results of the Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) which tests for HIV, of some of the women before solemnising the process," said Aditya Insaan, spokesperson of the group.
"This is important because while on one hand we want to help these women and rehabilitate them in a safe environment, we don't want to put the men at risk either," Insaan told IANS.
According to Insaan, the rest of the men will marry in the next one-and-a-half years.
"Trafficking is a serious issue and so is the high rate of HIV infection among sex workers. A number of sex workers are in the trade because they are forced into it - either because of poor economic condition or because they have been duped into it," Insaan said.
"In order to change people's perception about the community and help, instead of shunning them, Sant Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of Dera Sacha Sauda has encouraged the men folk to come forward, marry and provide a home for these women," he added.
"Once they get that sense of security and warmth of a family, these women can pursue a vocational course or a different livelihood option," Insaan further said.
Explaining the process, Insaan said they got in touch with NGOs across the country to reach out to sex workers in order to help them. The response that they got was overwhelming.
"We got a very good response. However, since marriage involves two people, we had to be careful in the process. So, the women were medically tested and counselled by a psychologist in order to ensure that they were in the right frame of mind to take this step," he said.
"Thereon, an interaction between the men and the women was set up. They met three-four times and were given time to take a final decision. It was ensured that none of the women was below 18 years of age and the men were in a position to support them financially," Insaan said.
When asked if the men's families were supportive of the decision, Insaan said that in most cases they were.
"In a few where families were not supporting, it was ensured that the men were financially sound. Also, about 300 families have come forward to adopt sex workers who are still minors," he added.