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Covid Impact On Sex Workers And Their Families

Eyes full of seductive approach, luscious pouting red lips, nicely done hair with approaching curl by the side of eyes, fragrance that can easily attract men and an extremely appealing look even when wearing a saree; that is how the women are depicted or expected to appear when the term prostitute is called out. Whether out of economic crisis or due to getting victimised by human trafficking activities or even in some cases some woman willingly join this profession across the world.

Although generally female sex workers are more commonly found, but there are plenty of male sex workers present world wide. A report says, currently 40-42million people are associated with this is profession across the globe among which, 80% are female between the age group of 13-25 years where the rest of the 20% are male.1 India has a long history of prostitution starting from the era of offering alluring dances and sexual pleasure to the superiors of a kingdom as mentioned in ancient novels.

A gradual change in activities associated with the profession during passing of different era was observed that includes Devadasis, the middle age brothel dancers to present day prostitutes. Although the prostitution profession is not illegal in India but the 1956 Immoral traffic act specifically announces some of the activities related to the profession to be absolutely illegal. The list includes pimping, owning brothel, soliciting in public places, indulging innocents forcefully for such work, carrying out prostitution in hotels etc.2

But apart from all the implementation of such laws, there are plenty of loopholes and illegal activities are continuously being performed under the nose of the government even in mega cities of the country. Obviously, some came willingly to this profession but that number is very limited. The increasing illegal woman and children trafficking and forcefully engaging them to prostitution either taking advantages of their economic crisis or by just only cheating upon them, has hiked the number of sex workers in a logarithmic rate in past few decades.

This is the general picture of the particularly dark side of the society ( as sexuality is still a taboo especially in India) which was always existing under the veil. Many sex workers do have a family to support with economic needs. But the dirt appears when after the night of ultimate pleasure they are again thrown to the mud and the society starts looking at them as the most shameful creatures. By not harming an individual, not robbing or stealing anything from anyone, not killing or supplying unethical goods, they try to earn money just to earn the living and definitely like every other individual they also crave for some respect from people and a better socio economic status.

The prostitution activities were only regarded as the pathetic and disrespectful activities only till the end of 2019.Sadly as itís key feature, the year 2020 arrived with the mega surprises for the mankind. As for the profession of our concern in this article requires physical contact solely, there seems no possible way to conduct such activities during the pandemic time. Covid-19 is not a deadliest virus but definitely is the most contagious one reported till date.

The continuous awareness alert from government itself to maintain social distance and restrict all the means of physical contact with any individual, even the near and dear ones and continues lockdown program is what the world is following. The fear of getting contaminated and the effects there after has itself caused awareness.  The world has already seen the greatest economic breakdown as everything shut down as soon as the contamination risen up within the starting few months of the year 2020.

Unemployment, hunger issues is now becoming greater concern than covid-19 itself and there is still no surety about the day when the world will get the vaccine. In such situation everyone out of fear for their lives, has started following the government guidelines unanimously. In the scenario when schools, colleges, official sectors and even the general purpose medical facilities are closed, the prostitution occupation has come on the point of getting wiped out now.

Even the regular clients are afraid of their and will never risk it for mere enjoyment. Also, being abandoned by the society during the day time especially, sex workers and their families are found to live in small colonies generally in outskirts of a city where they intend to find out happiness with their own people only without any intrusion. Now, firstly the hit of economic crisis comes with a very few or absolutely no customer during such a long period.

This is followed by loss of whatever savings they had and then the worse the strike of poverty. It is obvious that such close colonization is also unhygienic as well. And if any individual gets contaminated from any source, the whole community will face high risk of getting affected. The provision of quarantine also seems myth for such colonies. The government has announced for free ration for every individual for sure but none can survive only on rice or bread for such long and for other food items, one must have money.

To conclude such a matter, needs a lot of wise and liberal thought as the people we are concerned about are the most disrespected. In India, the government generally provide contractual services (e.g.100 day work proposal to the labours). A letter mentioning all the problems they are facing and requesting the government for provision of such contractual services, by the community of sex workers might open a gateway from the poverty issues.

Also, to combat the covid-19 situation, a huge number of medical assistance is required. Women, whatever occupation they are associated with, are naturally very impulsive, gentle and caring with patients. Thus, with their full concern, sex workers may get appointed by the government directly or even in private concerns to treat the patients as per the guidelines. In Europe, some of the organization are now reported to be providing online services engaging sex workers for virtual pleasure.

Although, India has several issues with internet or mass not having smart phones or laptops, it is possible to earn money by providing online services as well. The NGOs may also provide them with the possible kind of craft or any other work. Whatever the way is, our concern must be staying safe and providing food to everyone despite of their social state.

Also, if we broaden our mentality and accept every work as equal( considering the mental state of sex workers as well) the world might see a ray of hope for a healthy society without discrimination and some preventive measurements will hopefully bring us a covid free morning very soon.

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