COVID-19  India Project #46774

Support for children of sex workers in COVID 19

by Society for Help Entire Lower and Rural People
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Support for children of sex workers in COVID 19
Support for children of sex workers in COVID 19
Support for children of sex workers in COVID 19
Support for children of sex workers in COVID 19
Support for children of sex workers in COVID 19
Support for children of sex workers in COVID 19
Support for children of sex workers in COVID 19
Support for children of sex workers in COVID 19
Support for children of sex workers in COVID 19
Support for children of sex workers in COVID 19
Support for children of sex workers in COVID 19
Support for children of sex workers in COVID 19
Support for children of sex workers in COVID 19
mounika with her children
mounika with her children

I saw a pleasant smile on my daughter’s face after many days

Its indispensable to follow physical distance which is one of the preventive measures and protocols of COVID 19 pandemic. But the same physical distance made many sex workers to stay distant from even food and other daily needs of their children and their family members. “No customer turned out to my door steps so far because of COVID preventive measures and protocols enforced by the Government. I am unable to grab my bread and butter as there is no income. But sex work is the sole survival for me to survive myself and my children as well” said 26 years old Mounika* who got married at the age of 14 years with a person who is one of her mother’s relatives.

K.Mounika belongs to YSR colony in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. She lost her father at her early age.Her mother was a daily wage labour feeding their family. she had one brother and grandmother. Brother was married and living separately. Mounika has given birth to one girl and one boy child and her husband had lived with her till she gave birth to her 6 years old son who is younger than the girl child who turned 8 years now. Monika returned to her mother’s house as her husband didn’t get back so far and even his whereabouts are still not known. After coming back to her mother’s house, they were unbale to meet the family expenses just with the earnings of Mounika and her mother. As there is no option, she got influenced by one of her tenants and taken away to some distant place in the name of good employment with high salary. Mounika screamed that “it didn’t take much time for me to understand that I was deceived and sold. My ill fate made my life worse to severe. I would have remained in my home safe unless I quest for more money and trapped by that aunty”.

Once Mounika was rescued, kept for few months in a shelter home and re-integrated with her family. But after re-integration, she is not in a position to meet her family expenses as there is no work and no income since COVID lockdown in the state. The second wave COVID affected her life more bitter than ever as her family had starved for few days. Mounika said, “adding fuel to fire, for two months my daughter is suffering from some health issues. Even I have been contracted with COVID and was remained in home isolation for 20 days. No money for medicine and even to take some nutrition food to recover soon. I took loans from private money lenders for high interest rates which indeed out of my capacity but not in a position to repay at least interests if not principal amount”.

Mounika thanked that, “I saw smile on my daughter’s face after many days for which I would be so thankful to the GlobalGiving with my heart’s content for supporting nutrition, medicines and provisions for two months through HELP organisation at this calamity where there are hurdles and hardships still continuing in this COVID 19 pandemic outbreak”.

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Ration Distribution
Ration Distribution

The bitter impact of COVID 19 pandemic outbreak was indeed verse to severe on the lives of Commercial Sex Workers (CSWs) while having distressed the lives of all categories of the marginalized people among many other vulnerable families and communities.

Loss of work during the pandemic saw rampant mass migrations from Red Light Areas(RLAs). In Delhi’s GB road where there were many a number of sex workers from Andhra Pradesh, at one point, over 60% of the sex workers had to resort to returning home.But it was completely against to their will and wish due to the deep-rooted stigma and discrimination in and around their families and communities. In this context, HELP undertook a needs assessment study with sex workers in the state of Andhra Pradesh to understand the below issues:

  • Disruptions caused by COVID in their lives
  • Awareness, willingness, and past experience with alternative livelihood opportunities
  • Current levels of access to and agency towards key services to gauge their readiness to initiate a transition

The findingsfrom the study reveals that, there was worsened financial difficulties identified by the sex workers as the foremost challenge posed by COVID as 100% respondents reported a reduction in their monthly earnings, ranging from 33% - 100% fall in income, 62% reported borrowing from informal sources, 88% reported having no alternative source of income and 61% never heard of alternate livelihood opportunities. The novel coronavirus has exacerbated the challenges of sex workers making them even more marginalized and vulnerable today. The sex workers compelled to live on debts with extreme high interest rates which in fact very far beyond their capacities.

  • Hike in average interest rate from 7% to 12% for recurring debt in red light areas before and after lockdown
  • Larger loans were given to older and more trusted CSWs which constitute about 45% of the CSWs living in RLAs
  • While for majors, average earnings are around between INR 7,000/- to 10,000/- p.m., for minors, average earnings were around INR 15,000/-p.m.

In this context of extreme pathetic circumstances of sex workers and their children, HELP has supported them among the 10 red-lights areas (prostitution localities) covering 3 districts (Prakasam, Guntur & Krishna dist.) of AndhraPradesh – India through GlobalGiving support to protect themselves and their children from contracting COVID 19 through creating enough awareness on COVID 19 preventive measures and protocols as well as distributing the hygiene kit including masks,sanitizers, sanitary napkins and soaps and so on.

HELP also involved the community based organisation called VIMUKTHI – collectivization of sex workers and victims of human trafficking for identification of real beneficiaries and distribution of food material in their prostitution localities.

In addition, the project has extended its services to enable the beneciaries to cope-up with the challenges being faced from the trauma and distress conditions. Because, they were unable to access with work and wages tosurvive their families at least with food and basic amenities. Besides, providing thesupport to lead a normal life with food and basic amenities for the women inprostitution, the project has provided psycho-social support services that enabledthem to have mental strength and courage with condence on their further life. Overall, there is a good behavioral change observed among the beneciaries insafeguarding themselves and their children from COVID 19 as a result of thisproject.

The concrete results from the project are as follows:

-          The project accomplished that, 125 families of the women in prostitution and their children have been able to face the challenges that they experienced during pre- and post-lock down circumstances.

-          Distribution of food materials (Edibles) to 125 families on the occasions of   among the women in sex work at 10 Prostitution localities of Prakasam, Guntur and Krishna districts while extending knowledge and guidance to cope up with the challenges of malnutrition for their children.

-          We have provide 15 android mobile phones to 15 children of sex workers who are studying 10th and + 2 through online classes for continuing their education purpose.

-          The target beneficiaries have been accessed with safety hygiene kit including the masks and sanitizers that helps the women in prostitution and their children to be protected from contracting the virus.

-          We have distributed 500 sanitary pads to 125 families.

-          We have conducted one to one and one to two counseling sessions to the community people through mental health experts.

-          The target beneficiaries of women in prostitution and their children got awareness on preventive measures and protocols of COVID 19 enforced by the Government like hand washing, maintaining physical distance, wearing masks and so on.

-          The target beneficiaries who have been participated in awareness programmes in turn shared the learning with many other people among communities who have not been directly participated.

For instance, *Sarada is suffering anemic and vitamin deficiency where she is not in a position to feed her 3 months old baby at least with her motherly milk. She has been provided with good knowledge through this project on effectiveness of possible low-cost nutritious food like green leaf vegetables, jaggery and groundnut, egg and milk and so on. She has built with enough courage and confidence that she could feed her baby better than earlier with improved nutritional values through changed dietary practices.

These services we provided to this sex workers community, and so many children of sex workers, were only possible because of your support. Thank you for giving support to the sex workers and their children and helping them get through this difficult year.

*An alias name and stock photo are being used to protect the security.

Mental Health services
Mental Health services
Sanitizors and Masks Distribution
Sanitizors and Masks Distribution
Sanitary Napkins distribution
Sanitary Napkins distribution
Dry ration distribution
Dry ration distribution
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meditation
meditation

The background:

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
sanitary napkins and sanitizers distribution
food material distribution
food material distribution
group counselling sessions in the community
group counselling sessions in the community
counselling to mothers in the community
counselling to mothers in the community
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Organization Information

Society for Help Entire Lower and Rural People

Location: Ongole, Andhra Pradesh - India
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @helpap
Project Leader:
HELP AP NGO
Ongole, India
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