New Delhi: As the 21-day lockdown commences in India to arrest the spread of coronavirus, many industries are facing a sharp downturn and there are millions who stare at an uncertain future. Among them are thousands of sex workers and transpersons, many of whom live hand-to-mouth existences.
In an effort to help the already-marginalised community, a fundraising campaign to support sex workers and transpersons in Karnataka for the months of April and May has been launched. Given the stigma that surrounds sex workers and transpersons, the community is likely to face an even more difficult time when it comes to accessing essential services.
Sangama, the NGO behind the campaign, has said that the goal is “to provide 350 family units of sex workers and 150 transpersons whose livelihoods also depend on begging… a monthly package of Rs 2,000.”
“While half of this will be given in cash, the other half will be given as essential food rations for the home,” the campaign page reads. The organisation has said that it is also prioritising those who have children, elderly dependants and those who at most risk when it comes to coronavirus.
To this end, the NGO is looking to draw in Rs 20 lakh to fund the Rs 2,000 per month for five people for two months.
Two other organisations, Karnataka Sex Workers Union (KSWU) and Uttar Karnataka Mahila Ookutta (UKMO), will be helping Sangama with distribution. The regions being covered by the NGO include Bangalore Rural, Hasan, Bidar, Yadgir, Ramnagara, Haveri, Gadag, Raichur, Koppala, Kolar, Chikmagalur and Uttar Kannada.
Among the top donors is author Arundhati Roy, and so far, Rs 1,53,000 has been collected.
Sangama has been working for the rights of working class, non-English speaking gender and sexual minorities, sex workers and people living with HIV since 1999.