Sex workers face shortage of work

City Pandemic

After the pandemic, their old clients have not come back, leaving them unsure about what to do next.

Maya is a 45-year-old sex worker in Bangalore. The road construction on Mysuru Road has made her life very difficult, as it is diverting traffic away from her area. “We believed our lives would go back to normal after the pandemic. They haven’t,” she said.

Sex workers say they are getting lesser customers, even after the pandemic. Several men avoid visiting them, as they have either moved away or are too scared of contracting Covid in the unhygienic premises.

Madhu Bhushan, a women’s rights campaigner with Gamana Mahila Samuha, said majority of the clients of sex workers were truck drivers and migrant labourers. As they left during the lockdown, the sex workers lost a lot of clients.

Nisha, from Karnataka Sex Workers’ Union, said they are surviving on rations provided by non-governmental organizations and are facing grim prospects.

Even after the lockdown was uplifted, the migrant workers have not returned to the city, said Bhushan.

“Clients of sex workers are becoming more aware of the HIV/AIDS epidemic’s implications, as well as the hazards of Covid-19. As far as we know, no sex worker  has done any  job in almost a month. People have become more health and hygiene conscious as a result of the pandemic. Customers are avoiding returning due to a lack of hygiene at red light areas,” said Madhu.

Some women are part-time sex workers, according to Shubha Chacko, executive director of the Solidarity Foundation. She said they work as domestic help or in the textile industry, or operate a small business.