Chigurida Baduku: The Dhanashree Scheme Helps PLHIV to Leave Sex Work and Start Anew

Shobha Ratna is HIV positive and has been receiving critical facilities under the Dhanashree Scheme. “It’s very good that this is available to HIV positive people. These persons cannot pursue sex work any more. As their condition is revealed, clients will begin to back off and gradually, all business is gone!” These workers are then forced to take up other jobs, like selling vegetables, opening a tea stall, selling flowers, etc. Under the Dhanashree Scheme, PLHIV are provided with Rs. 50,000, but it asks for documents like Aadhar card, Identity card, PAN card and others. “The fact is, sex workers won’t be able to provide all these papers as they conduct their business without the knowledge of their family members. They often also keep shifting their base, looking for livelihood options.” Also, of the Rs. 50,000 given, Rs. 25,000 is considered subsidy and the rest needs to be returned. “With today’s expenses, it is near impossible to survive with that amount in hand. Just the rent of one shop exceeds what’s provided. I request the Government to raise the amount to 1 lakh and make Rs. 50,000 the subsidy, with the remaining amount liable to be paid back. In a few other states, HIV positive persons receive pension payments. If we start receiving this as well, we may be better off.”

In spite of the subsidy amount, many women have come forward and adopted the Dhanashree Scheme and left sex work behind. “If the Government can improve such schemes, then many more women will be able to stand proud and start other businesses, instead of relying on sex work.”

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