Fear of AIDS forces Warangal sex workers to quit trade

WARANGAL,Dec01: Sex workers in Hasanparthy, Warangal, ensure their clients use condoms, however, the fear of contracting HIV causes some opt out of the trade.

In Telangana, around two lakh people are estimated to be HIV positive and 1.7 lakh people have registered with Telangana State AIDS Control Society (TSACS).

Additional project director of TSACS Dr D John Babu said Telangana is still considered as a high prevalence State. Located 150-kilometers away from Hyderabad, a few homes in a row in Hasanparthy are where some sex workers live. Rajani’s (name changed) is 20 years old and her hand has disablility which affected, which is perilous in her trade. Other sex workers ensure their clients use a condom but Rajani cannot as she cannot put a condom on her customer. “I have been in this trade from two-years and have no other option but only ask clients to put condoms on. I live in constant fear. To ensure I don’t contract AIDS, I ask clients to wear two to three condoms,” Rajani said.

“We ensure it is used. Some men offer lots of money, up to `20,000, to allow them have sex without condom but we refuse,” said Kavya (name changed) who quit the profession 20 years ago and is part of Rudramadevi Mahila Mandali, which advocates practise of safe sex. Kavya said they refuse high payment since that one instance might infect them. It was only around a month ago that one of them died of AIDS as the deceased woman had refused to use medicines for treatment.

The fear of contracting the disease made some women opt out of the trade, choosing to be pimps instead. Kavya is one such woman. When asked why did she opt out, she closes her eyes in distress and said, “It is because of the kind of men I used to solicit. Some are drunkards, some do not bathe, some are brash. I did not want to deal with such men. Besides, I have two children. I do not want them to think their mother is a sex worker. Now I get clients for the girls who are in the trade and get by the day,” Kavya said.

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The women earn Rs300 to Rs1,000 a day. However, the income is not constant and there are days when they do not earn any money.

S Prasanth Kumar from Swasti, an organisation which works with sex workers in Hasanparthy said they take up advocacy for financial help for sex workers at village levels.