Saturday, April 1

Kolkata: Loreto Mary Ward Social Centre distributes ration among starving sex workers at Sonagachhi

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The Loreto Mary Ward Social Centre has come to the rescue of starving sex workers at Sonagachhi, where business has come to a complete halt due to coronavirus. Nuns, along with their band of women volunteers are distributing ration among sex workers here to help them escape starvation. When the volunteers of the Centre had gone to the red light district of the city to counsel the women against taking clients anymore, the latter started pleading for help because they were starving.

The plight moved the Centre authorities and they decided to reach out to the sex workers for help by immediately giving them supplies of rice, daal and salt to start with. The volunteers combed the entire red light district and made a list of the most distressed women, especially those with small children to feed. These women were addressed over the weekend, the others will be helped in a phased manner.

The first batch of sex workers have been each given six kilos of rice and three kilos of dal and salt. Medicines and soap have also been given. “We are doing this in a staggered fashion so that we are able to address everyone, but according to the degree of distress. We have told our volunteers to keep a strict tab on the red light area, keeping social distancing and their own safety in mind,” said Sister Monica Suchiang, the Loreto nun who heads the Centre, that is housed inside Loreto Elliot Road.

The number of clients started drying up in Sonagachhi from March 20 and after the lockdown started, Sonagachhi has remained client-free thanks to the concerted efforts of the police, administration and NGOs that work for the welfare of the sex workers.

Rina Das (name changed) and her son were living on muri, till the ration reached her. “I was sitting out and begging when these people brought me the ration. My son has been running here and there asking everyone for even half a roti to eat…” she said. Ayesha Biwi (name changed) had not eaten for three days because whatever rice she had at home, she had fed to her son and daughter. Shanti Mondal (name changed) was so sick that she hadn’t taken clients for many days and her neighbours had been feeding her son as best as they could. The examples are aplenty. Most women earn anything between Rs 400 to Rs 600 a day. After paying the pimp and the landlady, they have hardly anything left for two square meals a day, leave along savings for an occasion like this, the Centre volunteers said.

“We are keeping a tab on the area and have given our numbers to them so that the women are able to call us in case of an emergency,” Sister Monica added.

Source: Times of India

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