Study shows at least 99% of surveyed sex workers in Pune in search of alternative livelihood
Lockdown necessitated due to the Covi-19 pandemic decimated the demand for sex trade forcing these workers to borrow loans for survivalUpdated: Sep 16, 2020 16:16 IST
At least 99 per cent of sex workers living in Pune want to take up alternative means of livelihood, if given an opportunity, reveals a study conducted by the Asha Care Trust (ACT). The lockdown necessitated due to the Covi-19 pandemic decimated the demand for sex trade forcing these workers to borrow loans for survival.
For the study, 300 (around 10%) of sex workers in Budhwar peth were surveyed. According to the survey conducted by ACT, a forum that works towards the welfare of sex workers, at least 85 per cent of the workers have taken loans and 98 per cent of them have taken it from their brothel owners, managers and moneylenders, subjecting themselves to further exploitation.
“What is more alarming is that 87 per cent of workers stated that even before the pandemic struck, their incomes were not sufficient to support themselves or their families. Key factors like lack of education and employable skills compel them to depend on one source of income i.e. earning through sex work and remain trapped in the vicious circle. Majority of the workers now want to explore alternative sources of livelihood,” said Shilpa Shetty, president of ACT.
“Covid-19 epidemic has presented us with an opportunity to create a mechanism to rehabilitate sex workers in mainstream society. Our survey suggests almost all of them are looking at alternative sources of livelihood in Budhwar Peth region. For the women who opt-out of sex work, trafficking victim relief fund should be provided to help them pay-off their debt and get started with a new chapter,” she added.
A delegation led by Asha Care Trust along with representatives of other organisations including, Shailesh Badhai from Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samiti; Yogesh Bhokre of Maharashtra Itak Kamgar Sangathana; social worker Pratibha Shinde; Fayyaz sheikh of Pune Jilha Grahak Sanrakshan Samiti, Bhola Vanjale and avocate Vidya Pedankar met Pune city mayor Murlidhar Mohol on Monday and submitted the survey report.
The delegation also requested quick action supporting the findings of the study. Shetty said, “The meeting was good and the mayor gave us a very positive response. We are very hopeful that the district administration will help us in this regard. We also plan to meet other district and state level decision makers to help them take the initiative forward and provide requisite support to the sex workers in this difficult time.”
Tejaswi Sevekari, director of Saheli NGO, which works for sex workers, said, “The condition of the sex workers during the lockdown and now is not good. The income has stopped and they are definitely is search of alternative sources of income. If such initiatives are been taken of doing the survey or helping these women, then Pune Municipal Corporation and the state government should consider this issue prominently. Without the support and help of the government, nothing substantial can be done.”
Key highlights of the survey report:
82% of the workers fall in the age group of 25 to 45 years. Some of them were forced into the trade when they were minors. While 84% of the sex workers have not had any formal education and the rest 16% were pushed into the trade even before they finished high school. Also, 92.7% stated that they fear resuming sex work, but are also crippled with the fear of starvation. Harassment from brothel managers has led them to worry about their daily bread and butter. While 68% believe that the sex trade will pick up in the days to come, 99% stated that they will take up any alternative livelihood option, if given an opportunity.