Sex workers of Asia’s largest red light area, Sonagachi in Kolkata, will launch a drug awareness campaign among customers.
We have been fighting against AIDS and HIV for the last few years by raising awareness among customers and sex workers. Now we have decided to launch an awareness campaign regarding drug usage among customers and a section of sex workers.
– Bharati, DMSC Official
The Durbar Mahila Samanaya Committee (DMSC) will work with 1,30,000 sex workers in West Bengal, to organise various programs to raise awareness among the masses to mark the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
Sex workers residing in Sonagachi area are as such not addicted to drugs - maybe a very small section of it is. But there is a high prevalence of drug use among customers who visit it. So we think that an awareness campaign here will help to bring down its use among customers too.
– Bharati said
Promit Roy, a physician associated with DMSC, who looks into the health issues of sex workers of Sonagachi, gave examples of how customers under the influence of drugs force them for unprotected sex.
There are instances where customers come here under influence of drugs such as brown sugar, heroin and force the sex workers to have unprotected sex. This way both the customer and the sex worker are under the threat of getting infected by HIV.
– Promit Roy, Physician, DMSC
Children of red light areas get addicted to various kinds of drugs at a very young age, Roy said citing examples.
While diagnosing HIV cases in red light areas we have found that customers who have a history of drug abuse through needles are one of the causes behind the spread of HIV.
– Roy added
An NGO for rehabilitation of addicts, run by Tamisrajit Banerjee, many of whom are regulars in red light areas, remarked that there was a pressing need to raise awareness about drug abuse in order to combat the menace and said that the campaign will go on to benefit both customers and the sex workers.
I had experiences of patients who are drug addicts and have been to sex quarters under the influence of drugs, or in order to finance their drugs have got into sex trade. So this initiative will truly help.
– Tamisrajit Banerjee, NGO worker
(With Inputs from PTI)