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Friday, June 14, 2024

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Friday, June 14, 2024

Sex workers on the rise in East Khasi Hills

“There is also a taboo when it comes to talking about sex and the use of protection. It is also a time when young people experiment because there is no open discussion about sex - Samanda Phanwar, Programme manager, Lamjingshai Manbha Foundation

By Our Staff Reporter

SHILLONG:

A growing number of people are choosing sex trade as their occupation for the easy money while it is more of a basic sustenance for some because of the lack of alternate livelihood.

Speaking to The Meghalayan, programme manager, Lamjingshai Manbha Foundation, Samanda Phanwar informed that there are around 2000 sex workers registered with the organisation.

The organisation has been working for over 11 years among female sex workers (FSWs), and men who have sex with men (MSM). They are working on a project among the high-risk group (HRG) with a focus on their health issues. The project is meant to reduce the harm of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It is funded by National Aids Control Organization (NACO).

“The sex workers are educated on how to use protection. There is HIV screening once in six months and counselling every three months. There is also a regular check-up,” she said.

There are 400 active FSWs and 200 MSM, including transgenders, that are registered with Lamjingshai.

She said that the number of people who are attracted to sex work has been increasing over the years. There are 14 hot spots in East Khasi Hills where they operate.

The reason why a number of people are opting for sex work is the easy money, teenage pregnancy and no sex education.

“There is also a taboo when it comes to talking about sex and the use of protection. It is also a time when young people experiment because there is no open discussion about sex. Some even get into drugs,” Phanwar said.

The youngest sex workers that the organisation has come across are those in the age group of 15-16 years which are again very crucial years.

However, when it comes to sex workers who are elderly, she said that it is more about livelihood.

“They do not have a job and they take care of three-six children. Some have to support their aged parents also,” she said

She said that the sex workers are being taught on alternate livelihood options as well but it is not enough for them since the income is less while the burden of bearing the daily expenses for their children, on food, rent etc is high.

As for violence, Phanwar said that domestic violence was very high among sex workers especially during lockdown.

As for the government’s intervention, she said, “The government should create livelihood programmes for them because some are also supporting their parents.”

She said the tragedy for MSM is that they are being discriminated more than the FSWs.

“MSM are very much discriminated. For the transgenders, it is very high starting from their families as they are not accepted by their own families,” she said.

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