This article in the Daily News Analysis on Bangalore explains how sex workers do not get pensions, have no identity or ration cards and have to struggle for housing. Access to health services is also a problem “The first line of treatment is available but the second line is not so. Only a few are able to access this,” said Geetha, secretary of Karnataka Sex Workers’ Union, working in rural Bangalore.
BANGALORE:Sex workers do not get pension, have no identity cards, ration cards, and have to struggle for housing. People living with HIV are no better off. Sexual minorities too are fighting for basic rights, say members representing different groups.
The 12th five-year plan has to address the lacuna in health, education, skills development, and housing sectors, they said, after submitting recommendations to the approach paper to the 12th five-year plan to the deputy chairman, state planning board, Ramachandra Gowda.
People living with HIV continue to struggle with accessing free treatment at government hospitals.
“The first line of treatment is available but the second line is not so. Only a few are able to access this,” said Geetha, secretary of Karnataka Sex Workers’ Union, working in rural Bangalore.
The beneficiaries of government schemes are forced to make the cruel choice between revealing their status as HIV-infected and accessing food and medicines.
“People often travel far from their towns to get the medicines despite them being available in their own towns. They fear being identified and then facing discrimination,” she said.
Geetha hopes that the next plan will address the need for nutritious food along with medicines.
She mentioned an instance where accepting free housing would have meant living in a sex workers’ colony.
“Women in sex work are up against the odds. Among the 1,200 members of the union, only less than 300 have an identity card or a ration card. The rest do not have even one,” Geetha added. She hopes that the plan would incorporate their recommendations. Among them are health cards for sex workers, treatment of STD in all the district, taluk and sub- centre levels, pensions, treatment for sex workers’ partners, and supply of free condoms in urban and village centres.
“It is only when people living with HIV are allowed to design programmes that they will become more relevant and effective,” said Anasuya.
The plan should address this. It should also look at nutrition, shelter, and insurance. “Children living with HIV have to be given special attention,” she added.