New Delhi, November 29, 2019:
Being a CSW is not illegal in India. However, most people including doctors consider it to be wrong. This has led to these workers being stigmatized and criminalized, which has severe effects on their physical and mental health. A recent study among 1000 CS workers in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Pune by three NGOs; SIAAP, Saheli Sangh, and Sangama showed:
- Up to 75% of these workers did not seek treatment because of poor communication by healthcare providers, lack of respect, no/low privacy and confidentiality, long wait time, unavailability of doctors outside business hours.
- Up to 40% of them reported being refused medical care.
- Nearly 40% of doctors said they do not like to treat them in fear of losing clientele.
- Some of the opinions expressed by the CSW suggesting their awkwardness with doctors counseling;
- “Doctors ask us questions about what acts we perform, how many clients we have, what our fees are, etc.”
- “Doctors are always telling us to leave profession as CSW.
- “They are avoiding to touch us if they know we are HIV positive.”
- “They invite other doctors to see us, take photos of our female parts, and share without our consent.”
- Women said that the lack of respect also affected their mental health.
- 32% workers experienced high symptoms of mental health issues. None of the workers have accessed treatment for their mental health issues in a health facility.
- Nearly 60% of workers reported Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) including hypertension, diabetes, thyroid, heart disease, and allergies.
- Over 75% said they did not seek treatment for the disease
- Nearly 50% said they needed reproductive health services in the last six months; with 41% of the participants suffering from STIs.
- Up to 40% of workers said they did not access treatment for their SRH problems.