Praveen Yadav | May 30, 2021 | 0
Sex workers and their identities
In India, sex workers fight for their identity every day and in COVID-19, they suffered a lot, because without any proper identity they can’t any benefits of government schemes, but after many long periods of time, there are some goods news for them. On 16 October The NHRC, in its advisory on ‘rights of women’ in the context of Covid-19’, directed the Centre and state governments to enable sex workers to access welfare schemes under the category of informal workers, It Listed Sex Workers As ‘Women At Work’ The NHRC’s advisory was based on an impact assessment by an 11-member committee of experts comprising of civil society organizations, domain experts, and representatives from the government.
Welcoming the move, Kiran Deshmukh, National Network of Sex Workers (NNSW) termed the advisory as a milestone in the fight for the rights of sex workers in the country. In its advisory, the NHRC has directed states to provide immediate relief measures such as temporary documents to access PDS and other welfare schemes. Activists say that this will help many non- ration cardholders to avail ration.
The NHRC also advises the inclusion of migrant sex workers into schemes for migrant workers, free testing, treatment for COVID-19, and providing them with essentials such as soaps and sanitizers. The activists also point out that their long-standing struggle for rights has resulted in some positive moves from the judiciary and administration. In a recent ruling, the Bombay High Court held that there is no provision under the law, which makes prostitution a criminal offense.
The NHRC advisory also directs that sex workers have to be provided a moratorium on all loans taken from banks and other financial institutions and in cases of harassment or violence, action must be taken by concerned authorities. There is a large no of network in the country, a network of female, trans and male sex workers in India, with over 1,50,000 members in 72 collectives, networks and federations in eight states.
The recommendations include mental health support for police personnel to deal with their mental issues during the distressing period of the pandemic. Experts in the field of mental illness have lauded the advisory of the Commission. “It is timely and much needed in the distressing times of the pandemic,” Meena Gupta, a counselor, therapist and trainer, said in an interview of Indian Express.
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