200-plus sex workers get vaccine shots in Mumbai

Over 200 female commercial sex workers were administered the first dose of Covid vaccine here on Monday as part of the efforts to include the vulnerable and marginalised communities in the inoculation drive.

The Wadia Hospital, along with Aarya, GAURAV and Aastha Parivar, organised the unique drive covering more than 200 female CSWs from different parts of the city.

The campaign was witnessed by Mayor Kishori Pednekar, MLA from Sewri Ajay Chaudhary, Wadia Hospital CEO Minnie Bodhanwala, rights activist Zainab Patel and Mumbai District AIDS Control Society Additional Project Director Shrikala Acharya.

“Many vaccination drives have been conducted for various vulnerable and marginalised communities of the society, but the CSWs were left behind. As sex work is still considered a ‘taboo’, it is even tougher for them to tackle the problems they encounter on a daily basis,” Pednekar said.

Bodhanwala said that coronavirus doesn’t discriminate on the basis of gender and anybody can be infected, adding that the initiative is aimed to safeguard the most vulnerable sections from its harmful effects.

“We always wanted to help this section of the population and we counselled them as there was lot of misinformation about vaccination. But even after vaccination, they must adhere to the Covid appropriate protocols,” said Bodhanwala.

Founder of the NGO ‘WithAarya’, Shital Bhatkar, took the initiative to erase the taboos associated with sex work and resolve the problems of the CSWs, especially since the pandemic hit them hard and many lost their livelihoods.

Along with the vaccination drive, the CSWs were given a ration kit, personal hygiene and sanitation kit besides a saree from ‘Aarsa’, an initiative supporting the cause of artisans.