Supreme Court directs all the state governments to ensure that dry ration is provided to sex workers without insisting on any proof of identification. (ANI)

Lakh of sex workers became jobless and without an alternate source of livelihood following the COVID-19 lockdown. Supreme Court gave a week’s time to the states to respond on providing them free ration and asked Centre if something could be immediately provided to them in the exercise of its powers under the National Disaster Management Act.

A week ago, the bench of Justices LN Rao and Hemant Gupta said, “This is a human problem. People are not getting ration for want of ration cards. They are under severe distress.”

An application filed by Darbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee before the top court said, “After the nationwide lockdown was announced on March 24, 2020, there was no work and no income. During April and May, sex workers scrimped through their meagre savings or took loans at exorbitant interest rates to survive. Most were dependent on the charity provided by individuals and philanthropic organizations.”

As per an assessment conducted in five states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana and Tamil Nadu shows that only 52 percent of 1.2 lakh sex workers are receiving ration through the public distribution system (PDS).

As per the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, there are over 8.68 lakh female sex workers in the country and 62,137 Hijra/transgender persons in 17 states, of which, 62 percent are engaged in sex work.

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