Pune (Maharashtra): The recent demonetisation has hit some trades below-the-belt. These include the commercial sex workers and transgenders of Pune and other parts of the Maharashtra.
Dependent and functional purely on cash payments, the world’s oldest profession has ground to a total halt in Budhwar Peth and surroundings, which houses the third largest red-light district in the country. “Following demonetisation on November 8, the sole income source of the commercial sex workers (CSWs) and transgenders has dried up.
“Since most clients used to pay in 500- and 1000- rupee notes, all their savings were rendered illegal overnight,” said entrepreneur Tehseen Poonawalla, who initiated an informal project to feed those in need. Moved by their plight and their children’s, who mostly live on and off the streets, Poonawalla and a few friends got together and decided to do something about the sudden crises for these marginalised sections.
“We approached local hotels, restaurants and other events where food is served and asked them to donate the extras or leftovers for feeding the these people.
“The response was overwhelming and we were able to give food packets to around 200 beneficiaries daily,” said Poonawalla.
After collecting the left-overs, they load it in a van and take it to the silent streets where many children and even handicapped shiver in the biting cold of Pune’s early winter. He said the government must consider the plight of the most vulnerable sections of society, who are reduced to a fight for survival after demonetisation.
The worse is a vast majority lack bank accounts or identity papers; are shunned by society because of the social stigma attached to their work; and are solely dependent on ‘cash transactions’ for everything.
“We are doing whatever we can and hope others in different cities also think on these lines. When the disempowered sections are left to fend for themselves, it is the moral duty of the people, who are better off to help out,” Poonawalla said, preparing for the Tuesday round of feeding them.