Thursday, August 26, 2010

EC rejects 'prostitution' as vocation

The Election Commission has rejected the proposal to include prostitution in the central database of voters' roll.
Election commissioner Sohul Hossain said the vocation 'sex worker' was omitted from voter registration forms to discourage it.
He said during the formulation of the voter list in 2007, 14 vocations were included in the registration form — government employee, private sector employee, physician, engineer, teacher, lawyer, banker, trade, labour, farmer, student, housewife, daily wage workers and unemployed.
People not falling under these categories would have to resort to 'others' for indicating profession.
The Photograph with Electoral Roll Project had proposed that the Election Commission (EC) to include 30 vocations in the registration form including prostitution. EC approved 29 of them, omitting prostitution.
Sohul Hossain told that it might have seemed that prostitution was encouraged if it were included in the registration form.
"The proposal was rejected to discourage the vocation," he added.
He also said that people of this occupation will have to use 'other'.
The commission's position was that it did not have the authority to recognise or acknowledge vocations. But the inclusion of 'sex worker' in the voter form could hint at the commission's acknowledgement of the vocation.
The occupation is also discouraged by the society and religions, he said.
Sohul Hossain said that district administration does not give licenses to prostitutes; many of them carry on their activity under notary.
The registration form also includes occupations like blacksmith, fisherman, carpenter, cobbler, boatman, porter, butcher, cook, vendor, rickshaw puller, barber, tailor, judge, contractor, driver, nurse, journalist, retired government employee, and gardener.
In a query on the reason behind keeping 'student', 'house wife' and 'unemployed' in the form, the election commissioner said, "These pieces of information indicate a state of voters."
He also said that the registration form can provide 28 types of information about the voters and the national ID cards do not indicate the holder's vocation.
Prof SM Lutful Kabir, director of Information and Communication Institute (IICT) in Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), said the more information stored in the central database, the more useful it will be.
"Use of the database will be multidimensional then," he added.
Lutful Kabir worked as a counsellor in with the project in electoral roll preparation with photographs.
He said information collected by the election commission does not mean acknowledgement of certain vocations.
"However, the database may be helpful for statistics about voters in different professions," he said.

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