appy Mother’s Day to all the sex worker mama’s and mothers’ of sex workers! For all the sex worker moms out there, we know many of you do the work you despise not for yourself, but rather for your kids. You choose the work you do because of the need and compulsions. You choose it to earn bread, which keeps your rent and bills paid and allows you to afford providing basic necessities to your children and thus support for their brighter future and better survival. We all in our spaces somewhat are living with dignity because we are in a better position and our mothers are as well. But there are many mothers who are carrying their children on shoulders to reach home, there are hundreds of migrant workers and mother’s walking aimlessly carrying their children, at times without water, no food, no shelter, no assured safety. Just miles of never-ending walking. Similarly, there are mother beggars and there are mother sex workers and their mother’s, who all are living in miserable conditions due to long lock down. Just merely celebrating “Mother’s Day” will not wipe out tears of these mother’s whose survival is at stake. All these mother’s need help at this moment. Above all those mothers who have no social acceptance and are looked down upon, those mothers who are victim of circumstances and abused by this male chauvinist society, they are unable to knock any doors and have no one to go for help.
As COVID-19 has stalled whole of Mumbai, its businesses and offices and many small-scale industries have taken toll. After demonetization this is second shock to small traders and daily wages workers. Somehow the main stream professions have social acceptance and help, but there are many professions which have no social acceptance but in timeline they are the oldest among all. COVID-19 has distressed the sex industry, forcing workers to mobilize across India to start raising money for short-term financial support. Sex for sale has long been a primary part of the financial capital’s carefree nightlife. But amid concerns over the new coronavirus, even the world’s supposedly oldest profession is suffering a sudden slump. Most of them make their earnings on everyday basis, with about ten in hundred having the ability to save up and feed themselves to tide over such unexpected crisis. Hundreds of sex workers are based at Kamathipura brothel have daily challenges. Many of them are already HIV positive, some have infants and some have grown up children. Feeding all of them is not easy task in such crises. Kamathipura is divided into many lanes and divided according to regional and linguistic backgrounds of the sex workers. Most of the sex workers come from other Indian states. They don’t have any connect in Mumbai or anyone to seek help. There is little interaction between areas, which makes it harder for social organizations to organize them into a movement or union. Further, lack of public opinion, political leadership or social activism and support which is empathetic towards them further adds to the complexity of bringing them together and doing something. Since this lockdown, they have gone jobless like any other citizen residing in Mumbai. Thousands of sex workers are based at the Kamathipura and Pila House brothel and receive an approximately estimated hundreds of customers every day. Sex workers from these brothels have appealed to the government for emergency funding after a ban on customers to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
These sex workers no longer have money to pay for food for themselves or their children due to the sudden closure of the brothel. Right now, they need the government to reach out to them and provide aid urgently. As countries globally began enforcing strict lockdowns to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, India, the world’s second most populous country too followed suit. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day lockdown to contain the virus spread that has now killed approximately 2109 Indians and infected 62,939 citizens, but indirectly without the virus there are more humans suffering and suffocating without daily bread and means to survive. We have exact figure of people getting killed and affected by COVID-19 but we don’t have any figures being maintained on people suffering and giving up their lives due to inhuman conditions and challenges they had to face due to lock down. Survival is challenged and resources are meager. Above all Sex work is considered to be immoral by many of us and that is the reason these people have limited access to other support systems of the world. Though they are living human but they are not treated like one, most of them survive with great difficulty on meager earnings and challenging circumstances on a daily basis. Some mothers who are sex workers, have not been able to send money to their minor children who lives with their family outside the brothel and they fear for their children not being fed properly. Even if the ban or lockdown is lifted next month, people would hesitate to go to the brothel for a long time because of the disease and thereby this community will be suffering for a long time.
Authorities have pulled the plug entirely ordering the temporary closure of all entertainment venues, including brothels. The virus has caused fear and uncertainty among the people. For most people the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of those who are infected recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. Along with everyday survival, even health care is a major requirement for the sex workers. It wasn’t clear how the closure of brothels would affect independent sex workers, but they know that nobody is going to compensate them for loss of income. As always, they are left to fend for themselves and sadly on their own.
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