SEX WORKERS VS. LOCKDOWN, Corona-Virus-induced lockdown has brought troubles for each and every section of society. But it is the under-privileged and marginalized section of the society who will be worst affected. One marginalized community which have been far from any kind of recognition is indigent Sex Workers. This community has always been deprived of their rights; fundamental as well as Human.
Recently nationwide lockdown has made their condition pathetic and no aid from the government has added fuel to the fire. Thousands of active sex workers in India have lost their means of livelihood due to lockdown. Customers are not visiting them due to fear of corona outbreak hence They are not getting money. In such an impoverished situation, it has become hard for them to make ends meet.
According to a recent report of National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) India has approximately 6,37,500 sex workers and approximately 5 lakh customers visit the red-light area and such brothels on a daily basis. Due to nationwide lockdown, 60% of sex workers return to their home. Their condition is same as of migrant workers, neither less nor more. It is hapless that this issue is not getting proper coverage. Sex workers had tried their level best to make government acquainted with their piteous condition and also seek help but in response they get nothing.
Sex workers in India don’t feature as a marginalized community. The government doesn’t want to deem officially that there are sex workers in the country. That is why there is no welfare schemes or policies ever introduced for this destitute group in spite of they face raid and such kind of drama. In the wake of Corona outbreak when the government is providing aids for every specified section of society it is hard to find the sex working groups in the list.
Government negligence has turned the onus on voluntary organisations and civil society who are helping them at their own reach. It is also being informed that where lockdown is lifted from the rest of the country, brothels have to continue with it. The reason reckoned that this will reduce community transmission of COVID-19 in such vulnerable areas. Yes!! They are vulnerable not only socially and economically but physically also. One sex worker suffers from many diseases in her lifetime. Besides starvation, there are many life-threatening issues prevailing in their areas. Lack of hygiene and sanitation is the major problem. They suffer mentally also. Existing mental health problems are likely to be exacerbated due to anxiety over food, income, and housing.
Lack of social acceptance and dignity of work makes their life hell. If the uncertainty of the government’s help and fear of pandemic continues they may commit suicide also. So, there is an urgent need for policies and aid from the government side, at least to provide subsistence amenities to them. After all, they are also an indispensable part of our country and providing them basic needs of livelihood in Pandemic like situation, is the binding duty of the state.