‘Just call me Mrs Santosh’ said the lady with prominent sindoor and a mangalsutra to my question. The 42 year old Mrs Santosh is a sex worker from Delhi who wants to hide this fact at any cost from people around her. She used to work in the court cleaning and earned Rs 300 cleaning one chamber, until she was raped by cops according to her account. She then decided to become a sex worker to feed her family.
Her husband is still alive but unable to work due an accident earlier when he was young. They have four children- 2 girls and 2 boys. All the children are still unmarried and Santosh takes care of her entire family. The challenges are manifold- she must work as a sex worker to support her family , yet hide the fact from her family and protect them from that knowledge. She says her children are teased mercilessly and yet there seems to be no way out. Her worry is protecting the children and her two boys who she says have fallen into bad company and have got addicted to ganja.
One day’s work earns Rs 200 and that must take care of the needs of a family of 6. She did have a BPL card that was cancelled because she did not get it stamped on time. She does have a voter I card and an Aadhar card but has been unable to apply for a pension because of too much documentation required.
Santosh needs help- unless she ditches this line of work she cannot marry off her daughters, if she marries off her daughters she has no one to take care of her younger sons and if she leaves work there is no way to sustain her family. It’s a vicious cycle that she wishes gets broken with a regular pension so there is a way out.