NACO identified 5,315 sex workers in Nagaland. SC directs states to provide dry ration

NACO identified 5,315 sex workers in Nagaland. SC directs states to provide dry ration

Dimapur, Oct. 28, 2020: The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) has identified a total of 5,315 sex workers in Nagaland, as per the state’s affidavit.

This was informed by Senior Advocate Jayant Bhushan on Wednesday during the hearing of pleas which raised the problems being faced by sex workers on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nagaland state said that the sex workers already have ration cards etc. and process to define who are covered and who are not covered by the National Food Security Act (NFSA) is yet to be determined, Bhushan was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.

Advocate K Enatoli Sema, appearing for Nagaland, contended that there was difficulty in implementing the scheme as the process is online and issues remain with identification. NACO is also aware of practical difficulties.

To this, the Bench said Nagaland is not the only state that faces this problem; ‘you need to take help from DLSA and NGOs’.

“You have to act faster. This is not our job, this is your work. All the problems arise in implementation but you haven’t even started. Its four weeks now. In two weeks please file an affidavit for compliance,” the Bench said.

Supreme Court Directives for Sex Workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Supreme Court has directed all the state governments to ensure that dry ration is being provided to sex workers identified by NACO during the Covid-19 pandemic, in an adequate amount and uniformly.

A bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao directed the state governments to get help from the NACO and legal services authorities to identify sex workers and maintain confidentiality pertaining to the identity of sex workers, the report stated.

States have been directed to follow the standard operating procedure (SOP) by the NACO and commence distribution of dry ration to sex workers, the bench said. The apex court also asked the governments to file a compliance report within four weeks.

Senior advocates Anand Grover, appearing for the petitioner, said the NACO had given details of sex workers they mapped from all over. Some states are not taking data from NACO. No data provided as to how many registered by the NACO and how many are being given ration, Grover added.

He added that SOP issued by the NACO ensures confidentiality. He further said that major issues are NACO data has only the ones who are below 40 years old, there is no data for sex workers for those who are above 40.

“This is a major concern and needs to be looked at along with holding privacy,” Grover said.

The top court went on to say that it would later deal with the aspect of whether financial assistance could be provided to them during the period of Covid-19 pandemic.

The petition was filed by NGO Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee and one Budhadev Karmaskar, to highlight the destitution faced by sex workers due to Covid-19 and has sought relief measures for over nine lakh female and transgender sex workers across the country.