CHANDIGARH: The Female Sex Workers (FSWs) in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh are struggling to make their ends meet due to the lockdown to stop the coronavirus pandemic as their clients are not visiting them.
Thus most of them are hardly with any money to survive.
There are over 16,000, 20,000 and 3,000 FSWs registered with the State AIDS Control Societies of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh respectively.
Besides an unspecified number, who are not registered, indulge in this trade.
Before the lockdown, these sex workers use to visit their clients at the specified places.
As per the data available with the Punjab State AIDS Control Society around 16,000 (FSWs) are registered with it of these, 13,000 are regular.
Some 3,800 in Jalandhar, 3,400 in Amritsar, 3,000 in Gurdaspur and 2000 in Ludhiana.
A senior official of the society said, "These FSWs are single women (divorced and widows), married women and college, university going girls who for one reason or the other are unable to meet their ends.
"Some have to raise their families, while in case of married ladies their husbands are either drunkards or cannot earn much so they indulge in flesh trade and in case of college girls many of them are lured in this due to the easy money."
A single lady in her thirties with a child was forced into sex trade said, "This has been my only source of income for last many years but now no client is coming thus ran out of food. An NGO gave me pulses and flour (Atta) but that is also finished now."
Namrita Kakkar of Nabha Foundation, Patiala says, "We are getting distressed phone calls from these FSWs that due to the lockdown they have no clients so they can hardly survive now.
"As we can help, we have supplied them with rations from our own and in few cases requested the Sub Divisional Magistrates (SDMs) of the concerned area to supply then ration and they have been supplied the essentials."
"In this lockdown, we got a case of FSW who was diagnosed with tuberculosis and also HIV positive so we rushed her to the hospital and also gave two bottles of blood, she is a single mother of 7-year old living with her parents,’’ she says.
Deputy Director of Punjab State AIDS Control Society, Dr Menu says, "In this lockdown, FSWs are struggling hard to meet their daily needs, however, the NGOs who are implementing HIV Aids Prevention program under Punjab State Aids Control Society are facilitating these FSWs with rations and food."
In Haryana, it is estimated that there are around 20,000 FSWs, as the HIV Aids Prevention program was temporarily stopped and after it was started again there are around 9,500 registered FSWs in the state.
Deputy Director of Haryana State AIDS Control Society, Vinod Kumar says, "Due to the lockdown the clients are not coming to these FSWs so they have been provided with food packets, rations, sanitizers and masks by the NGOs and Red Cross Societies which are implementing the HIV Aids prevention program under ages of Haryana State AIDS Control Society."
An officer of Chandigarh State AIDS Control Society said, "We had a meeting with NGOs to reach to these FSWs as issues facing them were discussed in a meeting as the only source of their livelihood has finished. They are being helped out."