The government of Maharashtra, India, has acknowledged the challenges faced by sex workers during the COVID-19 pandemic with a new government resolution issued on 23 July. The resolution asks district officials to provide free rations and all essential services to women who are dependent on sex work.
As reported in The Hindu, this is the first time that sex work has been recognised as work in this way.
"This is the first time under COVID-19 that there is an acceptance about the precarious situation sex workers find themselves in,” Meena Seshu, founder of NGO SANGRAM, told The Hindu. “This is also the first time that any government has accepted in the language of a government advisory that they are engaged in work. And the National Network of Sex Workers (NNSW) demands that all States must take a leaf out of this order and issue similar instructions.”
Kiran Deshmukh, president, NNSW, said her organisation welcomed the government’s decision even though it came after a delay of four months. “We expect this order will be implemented on the ground. We would like our house rent to be waived as well as relaxation on electricity bills. The government should ensure that no sex worker is denied free ration for want of a ration card and other documents.”