Updated: Apr 21
In its wake, the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic has created widespread ransack and destruction. This is a time when the workforce for certain jobs increased exponentially due to it. One such occupation was that of the sex workers. Let us see the situation of female sex workers in Mumbai, India.
The coronavirus pandemic put an abrupt end to these women's meager daily wages. As their wages were too scarce to save, their earnings are spent on food and shelter for themselves and their family.
Furthermore, Mumbai is a city with high rents and cost of living due to its overwhelming population. The landlords, knowing the helpless situation these women are in, threaten them if they are unable to pay their rent on time. They even force them to leave their homes immediately. Most women are left with no place to go and at the mercy of the police who beat them up with sticks if they step onto the roads.
Added to this is the burden of having to take care of their offspring. Most of the Indian sex workers are mothers unaware of unprotected sex. Without any source of income or livelihood to sustain them or their children, the sex workers of Mumbai fall into the hands of depression.
The government of India has launched several programs to facilitate the poor in terms of wages or rationed food. However, these benefits do not reach this suppressed and neglected section of our society. They live in unhygienic, clustered sets of houses and face social exclusion (a cause and an effect of poverty).
As mentioned, these women rely on NGOs for rationed grain and dal once a week. They can sustain themselves during the pandemic primarily due to the efforts of several non-governmental organisations.
The sex workers, not only in Mumbai but throughout India, not only need to battle social stigma but need to fight for every basic right. They need to fight to be able to feed their kids and themselves. They need to fight to have a roof over their head.
Education proves to hold more importance than ever before. People must be taught to respect sex workers. Just like any other man or woman, they work in order to support themselves. This mentally strenuous job of theirs already takes too much from them. The least we can do is respect them, talk to them and educate them on the importance of safe and hygiene sex. As educated members of society, we must do better.