“People are not allowed to go out between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. or on weekends. How are we going to get patrons?”
Delhi’s sex workers were still recovering from the effects of last year’s lockdown and subsequent restrictions, and were hit again by the city government announcing curfews, weekend curfews and other curbs to encourage the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the country Stop capital.
The brain drain of migrant workers – their main clientele – during the 2020 national lockdown left them little to no work. Sex workers had no choice but to starve. They cut their fees by up to 75%.
Just as business was starting to pick up, the city government announced a curfew between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. last week. A weekend curfew was also imposed on April 15, which threatens to further undermine their revenues.
“Before the lock we were charging £ 1,000 per customer. After the announcement, charges dropped to £ 250 per customer with virtually no customers, ”said Kusum, president of the All India Network of Sex Workers (AINSW).
“We are aimed at workers, rickshaw drivers, auto-rickshaw drivers, taxi and truck drivers. These people went to their villages last year. We had started getting most of them back and were billed up to £ 500 until recently before COVID-19 cases rose again. The weekend curfew will take away customers who were part of the weekend hustle and bustle due to the nightly curfew, ”she added.
Delhi’s red light district on Garstin Bastion (GB) Road, officially called Shradhanand Marg, has an estimated 68 kothas (brothels) and around 5,000 sex workers.
Kajal *, a sex worker, said the night curfew had already negatively impacted trade, and the weekend curfew would make matters worse. “In the past week, the number of customers suddenly dropped due to the nightly curfew. We do most of our business between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. when people aren’t allowed to move, ”she said.
“Many regular customers have decided to visit us over the weekend, but a curfew has now been announced for the weekend. From our point of view, there are four days – including Friday evening – without work. COVID cut our income in half and those curfews cut the remaining amounts by half, ”she complained.
Simran *, who worked in a brothel on GB Road before the lockdown, has chosen to become a “domestic servant” – from a house that is inhabited by other professionals like you.
“Customers have fallen by 80%. If there were around 10 customers for each girl before the lockdown, that number has now dropped to two. We fear this will not work due to the curfew, “she said, adding:” The average factory worker is no longer allowed to get off at night or on weekends. So how is he going to visit him? We need help to survive. I don’t know how we can feed ourselves if things go on like this. “
Survived on donations
During last year’s lockdown, the sex workers were left on their own as the government did not send direct cash benefits to their bank accounts or grocery kits. They survived with donations from NGOs and civil society groups.
The vaccination campaign started in Delhi three months ago, but there is no focus on prioritizing the sting for sex workers, they said.
“No government helped us then, and no government does that now. We survived with donations from NGOs and other groups. This time, not many of us have documents that are needed to get a record of the COVID vaccination, ”said Kajal.
“Even back than [the lockdown]When the neighbors helped each other in times of need, we were looked down upon for our “dirty dealings” and left alone, “Simran said.
According to Amit Kumar, the country director of AINSW, the Supreme Court had ordered the central and state governments to exonerate sex workers in an order on September 29, 2020. “As part of that, dry ration kits were given to them for a few months, but that too has now stopped,” said Mr. Kumar.
* Name changed on request