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The Supreme Court on Monday, September 21 took cognisance of the plight of the sex workers amid the coronavirus crisis directed the Centre and the state governments to provide urgent relief without insisting on proof of identity.
The apex court ordered the authorities to ensure the provision of relief in the form of dry rations, monetary assistance as well as masks, soaps and sanitisers amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta asked the Centre if it can exercise its powers under the National Disaster Management Act and ensure immediate assistance.
"They are under severe distress now, something urgent has to be done. This deals with the survival of lakhs of people…You (Centre and state governments) should do something without waiting for our directions," Justice Rao said.
Appearing for the NGO, Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, senior advocate Anand Grover stated that a survey among 1.2 lakh sex workers several states including Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Telangana found that 96 per cent of sex workers had lost their source of earning during the on-going pandemic.
He also demanded the court to order free ration for sex workers across the country without insisting on ration cards as most sex workers do not have any identity documents.
"Sex workers have a right to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution of India since they are also human beings and their problems need to be addressed," he further added. Adding, the sex workers' have been left out of the COVID-19 response because of social stigma and marginalisation and are in dire need of support.
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