Disruption of the business of the sex workers during lockdown has pushed them into penury with a survey of the current situation stating that a huge number of them have fallen into the debt trap.
Around 89 per cent of the sex workers in Sonagachi have fallen into debt trap during the COVID-19 pandemic as most of them have taken loan during the lockdown as they were out of business.
According to a survey conducted by Anti Human Trafficking Organisation, post-pandemic – 73 per cent of the sex workers want to leave the trade and look for new avenues of income but couldn’t do so as they have taken loans from the informal sector, especially from money lenders, brothel owners, pimps, making themselves vulnerable to further exploitation.
“Around 89 per cent of sex workers in Sonagachi have fallen into debt bondage during the pandemic.
“Of these, over 81 per cent of them have taken loans from the informal sector, especially from money lenders, brothel owners, pimps, making themselves vulnerable to further exploitation.73 per cent of the sex workers want to leave the sex trade, but are not able to do so due to the huge loans they have taken to survive the pandemic,” said the survey report.
Sonagachi is Asia’s largest red-light area and home to around 7,000 residential sex workers.
Since July, around 65 per cent business in Sonagachi resumed.
“Piled up in huge debts, the sex workers have nowhere to go. Even though the lockdown is now lifted, the women cannot carry on work due to the fear of contagion. Now is the time for the state government to intervene and help them carve an alternative plan,” says Tapan Saha, national youth president of Anti Human Trafficking Organisation.