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Supreme Court orders States to supply dry rations to sex workers

Sex workers sit in a queue in Mumbai. Photo used for representation purpose only.   | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered States and Union Territories to supply dry rations to sex workers identified by the National AIDS Control Organisation and district legal authorities without insisting on the production of identity documents like ration card amid the pandemic.

A Bench led by Justice L. Nageswara Rao then directed the States and Union Territories to file status reports in a month.

In the last hearing, the Bench had highlighted the plight of the community, saying lakhs of people are in severe distress and the government needs to reach out to them and provide them with food.

The Bench asked the Centre to consider whether it could take similar steps for granting relief to sex workers as were taken for helping the transgender community amid COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.

Ground Zero | In Delhi, sex work with face masks and hand sanitisers

The Durbar Mahila Samanway Committee, the country’s oldest collective of sex workers, had approached the Supreme Court for support amid the pandemic.

The collective said sex workers were entitled to live with dignity and needed access to food, shelter and social protection.

It said the pandemic has ravaged their lives and livelihoods and left the community impoverished.

The collective is a party to proceedings in which a panel was set up to improve the living conditions of the community. One of the recommendations, which won the court's approval, was to provide them with ration cards, voter ID cards and bank accounts.

However, the statement said these documents have not been issued to them in compliance with the 2011 recommendation. It said with no government identity documents and no earnings, the national lockdown since March has been especially tough on the community.

Many in the community are single mothers unable to afford an education for their children in the current scenario. Attempts to secure alternative livelihoods have failed due to social stigma, the collective said.

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Printable version | Oct 31, 2020 8:05:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/supreme-court-orders-states-to-supply-dry-rations-to-sex-workers/article32722796.ece

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