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More than 1,000 followers of a multi-religious sect in northern India have pledged to marry female sex workers who want to escape exploitation.

Young Hindu, Muslim and Sikh men have been queuing up at the Dera Sacha Sauda (Abode of the Real Deal) in the town of Sirsa as “wedding volunteers”. They say they are doing so to stop the women from being exploited in brothels.

They also claim that their move is part of a campaign to stop the spread of the HIV/Aids virus.

“By helping drug users and sex workers we are trying to help remove people from the highest risk situations,” said Dr Aditya Insan, a senior DSS functionary.
He estimates that 40%-50% of women working in red light districts in cities like Mumbai (Bombay) and Delhi are HIV carriers.

Business graduate Ashish Sachdeva, 22, is in the garments trade in the town of Sirsa. He believes that marrying a sex worker could be his chance to repay his debt to humanity and society.

“I am very well settled and it will be the greatest honour for me to respond to Guru-ji’s call.”

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