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.
Asia and the Pacific
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.