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99% of sex workers in Pune’s major red-light area want alternative livelihood, study finds

Study by Asha Care Trust included 300 respondents in Budhwar Peth, India’s third-largest red-light area housing nearly 3,000 sex workers in around 700 brothels.

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New Delhi: A recent study conducted in Pune has found that 99 per cent of commercial sex workers in the city are now looking for alternative employment opportunities in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The study was conducted by Asha Care Trust, a forum that works towards the welfare of sex workers. The trust is based in Pune’s Budhwar Peth, which is India’s third-largest red-light area, housing nearly 3,000 commercial sex workers in around 700 brothels. The study included the responses of 300 commercial sex workers in the area.

The report noted how, given that the demand for sexual services reduced drastically during the lockdown, sex workers were forced to borrow money for survival. “Over 85 per cent of the workers have taken loans and over 98 per cent of them have taken them from their brothel owners, managers and moneylenders, subjecting themselves to further exploitation,” it read.

“What is more alarming is that 87% 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, ie earning through flesh trade, and remain trapped in a vicious circle,” the report said, adding that almost all the workers surveyed are keen to explore alternative sources of livelihood.

The report also detailed several socio-economic factors of these sex workers. While 82 per cent of them fall in the age group of 25-45 years, some were forced into the trade when they were minors. Over 84 per cent have not had any formal education and the rest were pushed into the flesh trade before they finished high school.

The survey also noted that while 92.7 per cent said they fear resuming sex work, they are also worried about starvation.

The Asha Care Trust, in the survey report, suggested that the district and the state administration can launch basic skill-training programmes under the National Urban Livelihood Mission to upskill women in areas such as data entry, telecalling, sales, tailoring and working with NGOs.

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  1. Woes of lakhs of sex workers in India during times of lockdown announced from time to time have become a matter of concern during September 2020 in the Supreme Court . Such lockdown are a part of strategy to deal with Covid-19 pandemic. While hearing the plight of sex-workers on 21 September , the Supreme Court is reported to have expressed the concern by saying – “ This is a human problem. People are not getting ration for want of ration cards. They are under severe distress”. While posting the matter to 29 September , Supreme Court has asked the Centre and States to urgently consider providing them relief in the form of dry rations , monetary assistance as well as masks , soaps and sanitisers. It is being said on behalf of the sex-workers that plight of sex-workers has become pitiable , they have been rendered jobless across the country because of the lockdown and exodus of migrant workers. During this time , investigation of death of well –known actor Sushant Singh Rajput is also being investigated when part of film -industry has been in news for drug. A voice of sexual complaint has also been in news.
    In this context , it may be apt to let readers know this Vedic astrology writer’s related predictive alert in article “ India in the year 2021 – planetary impacts interpreted” published at on 7 September , 2020 as follows :- “The planetary movements towards last four months , particularly November-December , in the present year 2020 suggest that questions of commitments or liabilities or discharge , economic or otherwise , look to be arising . Such commitments or liabilities or discharge may have something to do with the distant or recent past or even present covering such aspect as space program , aviation sector , telecommunication system , cyber , film-making , entertainment and the like………. Some compulsive expenses of a sizeable nature can come up. …………………Very soon thereafter , from about 10 October to 13 November in 2020 , sex related worrisome concerns can be in the news or focus. These concerns can be sex-related diseases or venereal diseases or there may surface woeful concerns of sex-workers as being more than usual”.
    It seems the actual happenings on the ground appear to be confirming the predictions of this writer.

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