Sex Workers’ lives were badly hit due to Covid-19 making it harder for them to earn money to support their livelihood.
Warangal: To enhance their business during the pandemic, a few sex workers are offering customers fully-sanitized rooms with mandatory masks. Around 130 sex workers in two areas i.e., Hasanparthy and Geesugonda of Warangal district, Telangana are in crisis due to reduction in visitors amid fear of Covid-19 and contracting HIV.
Senior sex worker Kavitha (all names changed) said, “We are planning to end the business with our generation. Although this is the main source of income for us, we are ready to quit the business to protect our children.”
“After five months of Covid-19 lockdown, we started our business by delivering services to visitors in a different way to boost our business amid lockdown,” said sex worker Anitha. “The spread of the virus reduced most of our visitors. The reduction in visitors shown impact on our business, and it would become a major threat for us in future,” she added.
Sujatha, Rudrama Devi Mahila Mandali’s (RDMM) member said that more than 130 sex workers in Warangal stopped their business for five months during the period of government-induced lockdown and many of them survived by government funds and borrowed money. RDMM is a community-based organization (CBO) working to improve the quality of life of female sex workers in Warangal.
Most of the sex workers said that they would be unable to continue their work if the coronavirus situation continues. “This is the main source of business for us, and we are struggling to survive in the time of Covid-19,” said Kavitha.
Ravi, a senior member of an NGO that works for HIV related issues in Warangal said, “There are around 20-25 workers who may have HIV, but no one knows. The fear of HIV and Covid-19 will largely impact on sex workers and turn off their business.”
“We are over 2000 sex workers in Warangal district. The ‘Swasti Organization’ and ‘RDMM’ group are working for us to help. So far 1500 sex workers in Warangal have received help from the ‘Swasti Organization’ as of today,” said a sex worker and RDMM member.
Sub-Inspector of Police for Geesugonda said “The spread of Covid-19 has severely affected the business of sex workers. It has forced them to shut down their business as many people have stopped engaging in their trade. Ever since the outbreak of coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown, most of the workers returned to their homes in Geesugonda, Warangal.”