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Masks and sanitisers – how sex workers survived the COVID-19 pandemic

It has been a year since the pandemic began. Sex workers across India are scrambling to get back on their feet. They are slowly resuming work with various safety measures, although income is nowhere near the same.

On this episode of The Suno India Show, our reporter Suryatapa Mukherjee speaks to sex workers across the Indian states of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. They all echo the same statement: Sex work is work, and the state should protect all its workers equally.

They recall the months of unexpected lockdown that gutted their savings and even drove some to suicide. Few government policies were announced and those too required documents that sex workers do not have. Even after a Supreme Court verdict, implementation on the ground has been “too little too late”. They say they have always been persecuted, with red light areas shutting down across the country, pushing them into unsafe work environments. What is striking, however, is how communities of sex workers have supported each other. They found ways to help each other with basic necessities like food and medicines where state machineries failed.

Masks and sanitisers – how sex workers survived the COVID-19 pandemic

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