The National Human Rights Commission, India have issued an advisory recognising sex workers as informal workers. The 11-page advisory titled 'Human Rights Advisory on rights of Women in Context of COVID-19' lists recommendations for sex workers under the women at work section.
Asia and the Pacific
In April 2020, NSWP launched a global survey to understand the impact of COVID-19 on sex workers. The survey received 156 responses in total from 55 different countries, out of which 18 responses were from 11 countries – Australia, Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam – in the Asia and the Pacific region
On Thursday 24th September, the Bombay High Court released three sex workers detained at a woman’s hostel and declared that adult women have the right to choose their vocation and cannot be detained without consent.
Reporting on the judgement, the Hindustan Times wrote:
Usha Multipurpose Cooperative Society Limited (USHA) is the largest and the first ever sex worker-led financial institution in South Asia, exclusively run by and for sex workers. Steered by Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC), a sex worker collective in West Bengal, India, USHA provides economic empowerment to sex workers by offering them loans at low interest rates, encouraging short and long-term savings and supporting self-employment schemes.
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.
In April 2020, NSWP launched a global survey to understand the impact of COVID-19 on sex workers. To date, the survey has received 156 responses from 55 different countries. 18 of these responses were from 11 countries – Australia, Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam – in the Asia-Pacific region.