Shillong: The Meghalaya government had provided free dry ration to 183 female sex workers from poor economic background during the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Home Minister Lahkmen Rymbui informed the Assembly on Friday (March 19). The sex workers did not possess ration cards, he said. “The Meghalaya Aids Control Society (MACS) along with the targeted intervention (TI) NGOs had coordinated and collaborated with the deputy commissioners’ offices to provide free dry ration to 79 FSW (female sex workers) in East Khasi Hills district, 44 each in West Jaintia Hills and East Jaintia Hills and 16 in Ri-Bhoi,” Mr. Rymbui said.
He said 1,513 active female sex workers are closely working with TI NGOs, of which 371 are associated with Manbha Foundation in East Khasi Hills district. As many as 380 female sex workers in West Jaintia Hills and 157 in East Jaintia Hills are working with the Mihmyntdu Community Social Welfare Association, 305 in Ri-Bhoi district are working with KJPA-SELDA, while another 300 in South Garo Hills district are associated with ADIL Gandhian Society, he said.
He said the NGOs have been engaged by the MACS towards rehabilitating the female sex workers and help them prevent the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, he said.
The home minister, however, denied that hotels are being used for sex work and said that police is regularly checking hotels and conducting foot patrolling. He stressed the need to generate awareness among sex workers on rising human trafficking and health risks associated with their profession.
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NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.