There are 31,362 sex workers covering major 42 prostitution localities in 3 districts of Prakasam, Guntur and Krishna Districts of Andhra Pradesh, according to a 2019 AP State AIDS Control Society, Govt of Andhra Pradesh study. Other estimates put the number at 50 thousands. The lockdown and social distancing measures have pushed them to the edge.Women working in red-light areas are also facing extreme risks and marginalization – due to stigma, discrimination, and criminality associated with their work – which have been exacerbated by COVID-19.
Children in red-light areas are also facing tremendous challenges. Prior to the pandemic, most children were living with their mothers in the brothels, sometimes going to school during the day, sometimes roaming the streets while their mothers work.But with schools closed, the children must stay inside the ill-ventilated brothel rooms with their mothers, unable to maintain social distancing and other precautionary measures. They are no longer receiving the crucial meals that their government schools provided.
Traffickers will use this opportunity to offer some advance payment to parents or other family members. The disruption in the state and civil society institutions and child protection mechanisms put children at high risk and in a very vulnerable situation. Girls living in the red-light areas / pockets are especially at risk, as their mothers may sell them off to get out of debt.
HELP staff and Volunteers are also providing short-term relief to children and families in vulnerable communities, including essential food and sanitation supplies.HELP is providing food to children of sex-workers in the 15 red-light pockets of Guntur, Krishna and Prakasam districts.In addition to these services, HELP staff & volunteers will continue sharing crucial information on ensuring child safety and prevention of child sexual abuse. The contributions of local organizations like these in times of crisis cannot be overstated. HELP is proud to support them as they work to keep children healthy, safe, and cared for.
For most children of sex workers, conditions at home aren’t conducive to learning. Many have no formal education and need to catch up before they can be integrated into schools. And when they do, they must deal with the stigma, and abuse, that follows.
Sharing of experiences by Girls supported by HELP & GlobalGiving:
*Rashmi, daughter of a sex worker in Vijayawada residing in one of prostitution locality, was devastated. She is stayed back at her house because of the COVID 19 vacations to her collegewhere she is studying her intermediate 1st year. She was under the anxiety of contracting with the pandemic as the location she is residing is having enough scope for spread of virus because of the uncaring attitude of the people towards preventive measures and protocols of COVID 19 enforced by the state. She said “I have been survived under the threat of contracting with COVID 19 till the initiative of certain interventions by HELP with the support of GlobalGiving. They have educated the people in my location on issues and ill affect of COVID 19 and its impact on socio-economic circumstances of families. They have created awareness on preventive measures and protocols such as maintaining physical distance, wearing masks and frequent sanitizing of hands and so on. They further facilitated with the resources helped me in attending online classes to reduce my trauma and distress towards the COVID 19. Next year I’ll be in university doing my BA. I won’t be able to take nine months off,”.
*Sujani’s the daughter of *Ramana residing in Addanki town of Prakasam District where her mother in sex work since 10 years. She had a step father who often creating disturbance in home. Sujani came back to her home town in the wake of lock down of her residential school in which she is studying 10th standard. She was indeed felt so pity of herself as it was a routine to witness quarrel between her mother and step father. She underwent severe trauma and gradually developing a sense of suicidal attempt. HELP has conducted an online session on overcoming trauma and distress among the sex workers and survivors of trafficking. Moreover, because of the poor economic condition as there was no business during and even post lockdown impact, we were not in a position at least to purchase sanitizers and masks. Later HELP has provided masks to all of us.
Sujani stated that, “it was really a new birth for me as the way the resource person who facilitated online session to address trauma was really helped me in suppressing the negative thoughts led towards a life of hell. Now I am attending online classes of my subjects with the support of HELP and I would like extend my sincere thanks to both HELP and GlobalGiving”.
*Hema is the daughter of a woman in sex work residing in Chilakaluripet of Guntur District. She is studying 2nd Intermediate but returned back to her home as the hostel was closed down in the wake of COVID 19 pandemic. The local people where she is residing are living on daily wages work and most of them are illiterates. She is not in a position to attend the online classes because of the business in her home where the customers visiting her house uses filthy language and try to abuse and exploit even Hema besides using her mother. HELP started creating awareness among the communities on preventive measures and protocols of COVID 19 and also distributed masks and sanitisers in her locality.
Hema says that,“ I would like to be very much thankful to HELP for its commendable work that not only facilitated a safe place for me through creating awareness in my community that was contributed to bring an effective attitudinal change among our people. I have a dream of becoming a civils officer and serve the people with every benefit that the Government enforces for the welfare of marginalized families. I am attending recreational activities and meditation classes to get rid of my anxiety and distress. I am so grateful to HELP and GlobalGiving for supporting me in continuing my education and providing a new life for me”.
A brief overview on Intervention by HELP:
HELP provided cooked meals a day for 15 days as well as monthly groceries and toiletries to 300 families during the lockdown in 42 prostitution localities covering 3 districts of Andhra Pradesh. Provided the required Personal Safety Gear - masks, sanitizers, soaps and safe drinking water. Provided the food material and immediate nutritional & medical support including emergency medical kit (include ART supplies for two months) to Prevent malnourished among children during the lockdown and also provided psycho-social counselling support
Area of Operation: 3 Districts (Prakasam, Guntur & Krishan) of Andhra Pradesh –India
No.of Benificiries: 175 families of Women in Prostitution the Details of Relief Material distributed by HELP are 1000 face Masks - each family average 10 based on the family members,sanitizers – 100 ML bottles 2 nos for each family,sanitary Napkin pads – each family 2 pockets, 175 cooked meals suppiled everday nearly 15 days, monthly provisions and toiletaries for 300 familes.
Community based activities undertaken by HELP
HELP has conducted awareness programmes on knowledge and assistance about sanitization at their living spaces in collaboration with the local Health Dept & Municipal authorities. Awareness campaigns about virus and how to protect themselves from contracting the virus have been conducted among the target communities. Conduted One to one and one to two community meetings with sex workers and their family members on Importance of social distancing. In addition, provided Psycho-social counseling services and faciliated online tuitions to the school going children. Further, HELP has conducted online sessions through ZOOM App and provided psycho-social counselling support through one to one and one to two by the famous physiologists.
sanitary napkins and sanitizers distribution
food material distribution
group counselling sessions in the community
counselling to mothers in the community