NEW DELHI: The Delhi government plans to converge all the existing schemes for women, children and the marginalized to integrate sex workers into mainstream society and rehabilitate their children. Surveys show there are about 37,000 sex workers in the capital. Of these, some 4,000 are crammed into hellholes at Swami Shradhanand Marg, commonly referred to as G B Road.
The initiative come after the Supreme Court asked for a model project to rehabilitate sex workers in Delhi. The court has also directed the government to put in place a scheme for protection and development of the children of sex workers as well as their rehabilitation. Chief secretary P K Tripathi, who was present during the hearing in SC, asserted that efforts were under way to converge the various schemes.
The government plans to use an MCD school building on Swami Shradhanand Marg, currently in disuse, for setting up a round-the-clock creche for children of sex workers. At present, there is no such government facility on this stretch, forcing sex workers to lock up their children on terrace at night. A small creche though is being run near the dilapidated building by an NGO. Ravi Kant, president of NGO Shakti Vahini, which has been working closely with sex workers, says the SC directives are a step in the right direction and the government’s initiative is a welcome move. Tripathi said the government has to apprise the court by November first week of how benefits of the schemes for the vulnerable will reach sex workers.
“We have schemes for women in distress, children in need of care, pension and medical help for patients of HIV/AIDs, etc. Under this model, we will reach out to sex workers. They first need to be informed about such schemes,” Tripathi said.
In a survey by Delhi Commission for Women, 60.7% sex workers said they had children. Of these, 54.7% could not keep their children with them. Children of most respondents were staying with their grandparents; 10.51% said their children were either in boarding schools or orphanages.