Bengal govt comes to aid of nearly 35 lakh sex workers

Coronavirus Impact: West Bengal govt comes to aid of nearly 35 lakh sex workers

Representative image/Credit: PTI File Photo

In a bid to provide relief to nearly 35 lakh sex workers in the state who are facing financial hardships due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the West Bengal government has decided to provide them with an alternative source of income through self-help groups and free training.

The state government will also extend financial aid to them.

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According to sources in the state administration, the initiative has been taken up in collaboration with Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, the largest sex workers’ organization in West Bengal. It will be executed by the Comprehensive Area Development Corporation under the Rural Development Department.

The reason behind the idea of forming self-help groups with sex workers is that then they will be able to start their own businesses. They will also be able to sell the products at government stalls. The self-help group will also be used for community kitchens.

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“Initially it will start at Kalna, Sason, Konnagar and Hingalganj districts on a pilot project basis. However, in some places, locals have objected to the inclusion of sex workers in such activities. Concerned Block Development Officers have been instructed to intervene whenever such a situation occurs,” said a senior state government official.

Ever since the nationwide lockdown started sex workers in the state including those at Kolkata’s Sonagachi, the largest redlight district in South Asia have been facing an acute financial crisis.

Despite adopting preventive measures such as using masks and sanitizers the number of customers is dwindling due to the Covid-19 scare.

It remains to be seen whether the project can bring a new ray of hope for them or they will continue to struggle for survival.