New Delhi: Over 60 per cent of Delhi’s sex workers have returned to their home states due to loss of means of livelihood amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown that pushed many of them to the brink of starvation. The fear of contracting the deadly pathogen has kept customers away, leaving a debilitating impact on sex workers in the city. Also Read - Delhi Metro: Operations from May 27? All Employees Asked to Report to Work Today
Kusum, who is president of the All India Network of Sex Workers (AINSW) – a group of sex workers that assists others with legal rights, health issues and social security across the country, said over 60 per cent of the sex workers in Delhi have already left for their home states. Also Read - Delhi: 66 Private Liquor Shops Open From Today, Will Function on Odd-Even Basis
“The 60 per cent population accounts for around 3,000 sex workers. According to government figures, a total of registered 5,000 sex workers reside in Delhi,” Kusum said. She said they were forced to leave the city after enduring weeks of the struggle for basic facilities like food and medicines. Also Read - Lockdown 4.0 Highlights: 140 Deaths, Highest-Ever Spike in Number of Cases in Last 24 Hours
Activists fear that many of these women who were on medication for different diseases, including HIV-AIDS will not be able to get proper treatment in their home towns.
“We feel all the work which we did in the past years for HIV and other diseases would be of no use. Many of them who escaped abusive homes can again become victims of domestic violence. There are many concerns but mostly we are worried about their health,” Kusum said.
She further said that similar migration of sex workers is taking place in other cities too.
Amit Kumar, the national coordinator for the AINSW, said the GB Road has completely shut down and most of its residents have returned to their home towns.
“We were doing our best to provide dry ration, medicines, masks and sanitiser. We also gave them basic information on HIV treatment,” he said.