Sex workers left alone to fight covid battle

NEW DELHI: Sex workers in GB Road have been struggling with sustainability since the lockdown started. The women who hardly earn any money are angry and scared with the authorities for they feel they have been abandoned at such crucial times.

"We hardly earn anything as it is, and this lockdown has come as a curse for us," said Nagma (name changed on request). Staying alone in the brothels of GB Road, Nagma said that she hardly has money to sustain.

"I used to earn Rs. 200 to Rs. 300 per day, which was Rs. 5,000 per month and hardly anything. We don't have to pay rent that is the only benefit we have," she said, showing her small room.

Nagma hails from Andhra Pradesh and has been working as a sex worker for the past 15 years.

"My family is in the village, including my kids. I used to send them money. I have nothing to send now. There is no money to even buy medicines," she said.

Although the sex workers are provided ration by the state government, it is not enough. "We are given less ration. For every two people, one bag of rice and wheat is given. Usually, this is done on an individual basis," said a sex worker standing outside her house.

There was a visible resentment towards the civil societies, as the workers feel they have been abandoned to fend for themselves during this crisis. "They have used our stories to earn money, while we have nothing," said Choti.

However, there is another fear that lingers the lives of sex workers. As many have been forced and others had no financial stability, this is their only way to earn bread and butter. But with Coronavirus, things might change for them.

"People slowly stopped coming as the news of Covid was shown in the media. Before the lockdown only, we saw few customers," said Choti.

Choti says that they are aware of the consequences of Covid. "But how will we earn is what I am concerned about. This is terrible and we are afraid," said Choti.

There are more than 1,200 sex workers at GB Road, while many have left for their village. Living in zero social distancing and unhygienic environment, the women are pleading to the government to do something about their situation.

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