Kolkata, Aug 25 (PTI) Sex workers in Kolkata's Sonagachhi have been reeling under financial crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that, however, hasn't deterred them from setting in motion preparations for Durga puja, the rights for which were secured by them only a few years ago.
Most of them survived on free ration provided by the government and other voluntary organisations during the first three months after the pandemic struck, but the situation eased a bit in July with the start of the unlock phase, as people started visiting the area, an office-bearer of an association working for the rights of sex workers said.
'Khuti puja (customary ritual before setting up the marquee) will be held on September 2 at Sonagachhi in the presence of social workers and representatives of various cultural organisations,' Mahasweta Mukherjee of Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Samiti (DMSS) told PTI on Tuesday.
Since 2013, the association has been providing all support to the sex workers for organising Durga puja, after the Calcutta High Court gave a verdict in their favour.
'Initially, the women were unsure about organising the puja this year, but the residents insisted that Durga puja be held on a small scale. An order for a four-foot-tall idol has been placed already. Funds might be a problem, but hopefully we will tide over the crisis,' Mukherjee said.
Around 20,000 sex workers take part in the festivities for four days in Sonagachhi, considered one of the largest red-light areas in Asia, she said.
All safety guidelines and protocols framed by the government will be in place and there is no plan to stop the entry of revellers, though volunteers will be monitoring their movements, Mukherjee added. PTI SUS RMS RMS RMS RMS