Why Are More Women in Country Turning to Sex Work?

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Colombo/New Delhi: The women of Sri Lanka, which is battling an economic crisis like never before, are now facing another predicament. With most of them losing their jobs in the textile sector, these women are now forced to become sex workers, according to an ANI report. In the wake of the unprecedented crisis in the country, 22 million Sri Lankans are facing enormous hardship and prospects of poverty. The difficulties brought by the current situation in the country have pushed many families to the edge. Most of the people in Sri Lanka are having a tough time running their households with daily struggles to procure food, fuel and essential items.Also Read – World Bank Denies New Financing To Sri Lanka Amid Crisis. Here’s Why

This dire situation has seen makeshift brothels cropping up across the country. There has been an increase of 30 per cent in prostitution in the last few months as women here are forced to become sex workers to earn a livelihood, according to Stand-up Movement Lanka (SUML), a group that works for the rights of sex workers. Some of these establishments operate as spas and wellness centres. Many say this is the only way to provide their families with three meals a day. Also Read – IMF Slashes Global Growth Outlook to 3.2%, Warns Of Economic Recession Amid Rising Inflation

Also Read – Gotabaya Rajapaksa Not Hiding In Singapore, Will Return To Sri Lanka: SL Minister Bandula Gunawardena

“Women working in the textile industry are resorting to ‘sex work’ after being fired due to the economic crisis,” Ashila Dandeniya, Executive Director, SUML told ANI. “Due to the current crisis, we have noticed that many women are taking up prostitution. Most of them are from the textile industry. After Covid, the textiles industries were affected and many jobs were cut and now the current situation is forcing them into sex work for their livelihoods,” she said.

Women share stories of change in profession

21-year-old Rehana (name changed) shared her story with ANI about how she turned from an employee of the textile industry to a sex worker. Rehana lost her job seven months ago and after months and months of despair, she took up prostitution. “In December last year, I lost my job in a textile factory. Then, I got another job on a daily basis. Sometimes, when the manpower was less, I used to go and work. But I could not get the money as I did not get it regularly and it was too little to take care of my needs and that of the family. Then, a spa owner approached me and I decided to work as a sex worker due to the current crisis. My mind refused to accept the offer but I was in dire need of money for my family,” she told ANI.

42-year-old Rozy (name changed) is another one of the many who became a sex worker. A mother of a seven-year-old, she was divorced and she had to earn enough to pay for her daughter’s education and rent. “Income is insufficient due to the economic crisis. Money is not enough for my family’s domestic needs. That’s why I chose this. I run a shop and I have to pay to keep it running. Because of this problem many prostitutes are now there,” she told ANI.

Higher income, but many problems

It is also believed that a big reason behind becoming sex workers is that girls and women who used to earn LKR 20,000 to 30,000 a month, get about LKR 15,000-20,000 in a day. But there are many problems that they face. The Executive Director of SUML further said, ” Many sex workers started living with their partners but due to the crisis the partner had to leave many girls. Many of them have become pregnant also… at present we have two girls who are pregnant and we need to take care of them and we are not getting help anywhere even from the government.”

(With inputs from ANI)

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