Sex workers in India have been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Indian government does not acknowledge sex work as a legitimate form of employment, so sex workers have few protections and little access to government-sponsored relief schemes. For an already marginalized group, the public health crisis has been a period of immense hardship and additional suffering.
Thanks to community-led human rights groups, sex workers have finally been able to receive much-needed relief. With the Fund’s help, member organizations of the National Network of Sex Workers have helped sex workers across four states—Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka—access dry ration support and direct cash benefits.
Thanks to incredible advocacy efforts of Fund-supported groups like SANGRAM, the government of Maharashtra finally agreed last year to include sex workers in state benefits—a huge step toward recognizing their fundamental rights. The Maharashtra government has allocated more than $6.8 million (or 500 million rupees) to the sex worker community.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, grassroots activists in India have come to the rescue of the country’s most vulnerable communities. Now, as a deadly second wave ravages health care and other support systems, activists on the front lines need our support more than ever. Help save lives today.