In West Bengal, a peaceful election is held – by sex workers

first_imgElections in West Bengal are invariably a violent affair. But in this election, the eight candidates contesting sat in a row holding the symbols allotted to them, laughing and joking with each other.This unique election, held on Wednesday in city’s Salt Lake area, was restricted to the community of sex workers who cast their votes to elect the office bearers of Durbar Mahila Samanaway Committee (DMSC), the largest sex workers’ collective in the country with 50,000 members.Smarajit Jana, an advisor of the DMSC who oversaw the elections, said the process started in June with elections to the 45 branch committees spread across West Bengal. On Wednesday, the 180 elected representatives from the 45 branch committees gathered at a community hall in Salt Lake to elect the office-bearers . There are a strict set of guidelines for holding the polls and observers were appointed to ensure that the process was free and fair. Only those who declared themselves as “sex workers” could contest and vote in the elections. “We have been not allowed to access our mobile phones. We cannot talk to any of the voters, not even wave or smile to them,” said Bishakha Laskar, contesting for the post of the president of DMSC. Ms. Laskar’s election symbol was a ladder. Other contenders for the post were allotted symbols like the telephone and sun. Three set of ballot papers were printed for the voters to decide the top three office-bearers of the DMSC.Mamata Mukherjee, an office-bearer at the Chetla branch of DMSC, said she was a first-time voter. “There is not much difference between voting in this election and in the general election. The only difference is that there is no violence or fear here,” she said. Others involved in the process said the elections had been free and fair and without any violence. Banshi Badan Chattopadhyay, a retired school teacher, functioned as one of three observers in the poll process. “We are checking for false voters and ensuring that everything goes on as per rules,” Mr. Chattopadhyay said.Explaining the need for holding such polls, Dr. Jana said that the election not only empowered the women but also helped the office-bearers relate to the problems of fellow sex workers.Shortly after the end of the polling, Bishakha Laskar was elected as the president of DMSC, Kajal Bose as secretary and Abeda Bibi as it treasurer.last_img read more

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first_imgE-love: According to The Wall Street Journal, venture capitalists still love the Net, if only a little less. Investment in Internet companies by venture capital firms fell in the second quarter of 2000 to $14.75 billion, down from $15.39 billion in the first quarter. But that is still more than,E-love: According to The Wall Street Journal, venture capitalists still love the Net, if only a little less. Investment in Internet companies by venture capital firms fell in the second quarter of 2000 to $14.75 billion, down from $15.39 billion in the first quarter. But that is still more than the amount invested in the first half of 1999.Olympic Surprise: Thought the Net was supreme? Well, you have to wait a while: TV still rules, OK? Olympic officials have banned Internet video and audio transmissions from Sydney to avoid usurping TV’s broadcast rights. But you can still track the games through Olympics.com and a host of other sports sites. The exclusive Olympics site at indiatoday. comgoes up soon so watch that space as well.India View: It’s getting better. The Gartner Group’s SHARP (Surfing Habits Advertising Research and Purchase) latest outlook for India (3,000 respondents in seven metros) says it has the highest Net user growth rate in Asia-Pacific. But e-business is still low, with only a little over 2 per cent of users having paid online. Part of the reason is problems with setting up confidentiality of card transactions on the Net. The good news: a fifth of those who haven’t bought anything on the Net say they want to. There was more good news last week from a study on e-commerce by Taylor Nelson Sofres Interactive. Its 27-country survey across Europe, Asia-Pacific and North America ranked India 17 among on-line shoppers, on par with Malaysia and Singapore and ahead of Taiwan.last_img read more