“Everybody has sex, the only difference is that we charge for it.” Quote by a sex worker.
From historical times to present times sex workers have been a crucial part of our societies. Their very existence in society indicates they serve a function of simple supply-demand. But are highly stigmatized groups challenging basic family and sexual morality. They have been relegated to the margins of society, abused, exploited and rights restricted as citizens. Sex workers are adults who receive money or goods in exchange for consensual sex service or erotic performances, either regular or occasionally. Having fewer options for work, these are usually poverty-stricken and live in terrible conditions.
Sex workers, like most workers, have diverse feelings about their work. Some sex workers respect it just like their work but find that it is their best or only option to make a living. Some are agnostic about their work but find that it offers flexibility or good pay. And some enjoy the work and find it all around rewarding or fun. Regardless of what sex workers think about their work, they deserve a healthy workplace, safety, and human rights. Globally sex workers encounter barriers in accessing health care, legislation, legal resources, and labor rights.
With no amazing wealth, no financial institution to seek a loan from, these women are compelled to depend on sex work for daily survival- they don’t have resources to feed their family. With zero finances and children, they struggle with feeding and providing them with a decent livelihood. There are thousands of women in India working as sex workers in the neglected corners of cities. They have zero financial support from the government or banks. A little relief is provided by Financial Inclusion on which Sex workers may rely on.
No financial support from Banks
Mainstream financial institutions such as public and private banks are inaccessible to prostitutes for a variety of reasons. Most of the women working in the sex industry were sold into sexual slavery by their relatives or pimps. Hence they do not have birth certificates, school leaving certificate or proof of residency- documents that are required to open bank accounts in India. Worse, regular banks keep sex worker away since other customers protest against banking with them. Moreover, the stigma associated with sex work implies that it can be difficult for sex workers to approach officials in regular banks, who may be insensitive or even discriminate against them. The shame and embarrassment attached to this profession pull back sex workers from even thinking of approaching mainstream banks. The financial needs of sex workers are different from the usual customers of the banks, sometimes objectionable. Hence, financial institutions step back in providing banking services to this community.
Financial inclusion is the method of offering access to formal financial services to give an individual, across socio-economic backgrounds and income strata. This term is used especially in reference to providing financial services to the marginalized, poor and rural community is because these are the very communities that are not served by mainstream regular banks. Their financial needs are often micro in nature compared to those of well off customers, that these banks serve. Hence there is a need for special institutions such as micro finance institutions to cater to their financial needs.
The vulnerability of female sex workers should not be seen from the context of sex work alone. Rather, their structural, social and financial vulnerabilities need to be addressed to provide them with a safe and enabling environment. Indian sex workers are never given much attention, but at the same time, Indians are obsessed with visiting brothels. It is important to ponder upon their financial problems as well.