Swati Maliwal, the chairperson of Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) spoke to The Sunday Guardian. Excerpts:
Q. You have been investigating GB Road properties. What have you discovered so far?
A. When a big raid was conducted by Delhi police in GB Road brothels that resulted in the arrest of Afaaq, who was involved in trafficking of over 5,000 girls including minors, one would expect that the business of GB Road brothels must have taken a hit. But when I visited the brothels a week after the raid, business was as usual. There were large numbers of young drunk men, and coupons for “customers” were being sold openly for Rs 200. I have been trying hard to get hold of the people who own these brothels, but nobody knows in whose name these properties are registered. Afaaq was just a simple pimp who is a part of the larger racket.
Q. Do you agree that legalising sex trade and giving sex workers a regular employee status can be a solution to curb trafficking and other issues in India?
A. No, I strongly disagree with this idea. GB Road brothels reek of the spirit of a woman who is truly violated. Even garbage vats don’t stink the way these brothels do. I think regularization will increase trafficking. It is the poorest of the poor who are exploited and pulled into this vicious circle. If sex can exist as an industry which is monitored like all other industries by the government and if being a sex worker is a “job”, then will you and I do it? The day it will be okay for us to work in an organised sex industry that day I will accept this solution. People who say that legalising sex trade will reduce rapes and make it sound like some kind of social work should come forward to do this social work. Until then we have to continue to work for the rescue and rehabilitation of these women who are trapped inside these brothels.
Q. What is your take on the latest recommendations on the Surrogacy Law (regulations) 2016?
A. DCW is currently studying the whole subject and soon will file recommendations to the concerned authority. I do have a personal opinion on the issue, but I would like to talk about it after DCW has conducted its research.
Q. Delhi has still not done away with illegal sex determination centres. What is DCW doing about it?
A. We have recently issued notices to various district magistrates and asked them to forward information of all the ultrasound centres and have also asked them to reveal the number of raids that have been carried out to keep a check on illegal sex determination. The reason why violation of Pre-Conception Pre-Natal Diagnosed Techniques Act 1994 continue is clearly because of the poor conviction rate. Most of the cases go unreported.
Q. How satisfied are you with your work on women safety in the capital?
A. I am not satisfied at all. The situation is very bad in the capital. The fruit of our efforts depends on a lot of people which is why positive results are taking time.
Q. AAP had introduced a 10-point women safety agenda during election campaigning. None of that has materialised. Your comments?
A. There is a lot of work that Delhi government has done so far and there are many other goals that are yet to be achieved. CCTVs should be installed in buses and roads, citizens’ security force should be there. But there is some work that is being fulfilled, for example, after DCW requested to increase the compensation for rape victims, the state government forwarded the file to the Central government but till date we have not received any answer. Frankly, I am not concerned about the 10-point agenda; the women safety issue is being neglected as none of the stakeholders are participating enough.
Q. On the basis of an RTI BJP spokesperson Harish Khurana had alleged that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal did not conduct any meeting on women safety issue in capital.
A. I have met our CM several times to discuss these issues with him so I know that he too cares about the safety of women in the city.