Effect of COVID-19 pandemic on sex workers

Health and Family Welfare

GOVERNMENT OF INDIA MINISTRY OF HEALTH AND FAMILY WELFARE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND FAMILY WELFARE RAJYA SABHA UNSTARRED QUESTION NO.1084 TO BE ANSWERED ON 20TH SEPTEMBER, 2020 EFFECT OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON SEX WORKERS 1084 DR. AMAR PATNAIK: Will the Minister of HEALTH AND FAMILY WELFARE be pleased to state: (a) whether Government has conducted any study to gauge the impact of COVID-19 on sex workers in the country; (b) if so, the details thereof; (c) if not, the reasons therefor; (d) the steps taken by Government to provide affordable and accessible healthcare to sex workers amidst the pandemic; and (e) the steps taken by Government to reduce stigmatisation of sex workers so as to enable them to access relief aid? ANSWER THE MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH AND FAMILY WELFARE (SHRI ASHWINI KUMAR CHOUBEY) (a) to (c) National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) has not conducted any study to gauge the impact of COVID 19 on sex workers in the country. NACO’s research mandate is limited to Operational Research studies relating to HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI). (d) National AIDS Control Organization issued guidance notes to all State AIDS Control Societies (SACS) and Union Territories (UTs) to ensure continuity of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services to all communities inclusive of sex workers. These instructions are regularly reviewed and reiterated. (e) NACO conducts regular community consultations where representatives from sex workers communities also participate. Capacity building training programmes for programme managers and service providers include sessions on reducing stigma for High Risk Group populations and persons living with HIV AIDS. Through communications to SACS, the programme functionaries at district and State level, directions are issued to create and enhance access to social protection schemes. NACO has also directed SACS and reached out to other line ministries like Social Justice and Empowerment, Women and Child development, etc to support such communities to access relief aid.