Sex workers are lobbying candidates in the Indian general election asking them to support their demands for better health and welfare services in return for votes.
"We wanted to see which party accepts sex workers as part of the community", president of the All India Network of Sex Workers (AINSW) Kusum (who goes by only one name) stated, adding "Some express support for us behind closed doors, but never in public".
The AINSW reportedly has 5 million members, yet sex workers have no special influence. Indian society and politics are known to be too conservative to talk about sex work openly, much less debate or acknowledge their rights as citizens, according to Kusum.
"That is why we are making a special effort in this election to get some visibility and get our voices heard. Our vote is important because we all come to a consensus and collectively decide which party to vote for", Kusum stated.
The 2019 Indian general election is scheduled to be held in seven phases between 11 April and 19 May. Several thousand candidates will compete for 543 parliamentary seats in the Lok Sabha, the Indian parliament's lower house. The vote count will be held on 23 May.