“A pension of Rs. 2000 will reduce our vulnerability and give us the confidence to live without depending on sex work”- Sri Devi, age 32, from WISE. Peddapuram, AP:
“I joined the CBO eight years ago and was made a Peer Educator. This enabled me to learn about things like, the right to live with dignity, seek quality health services, and avail of government entitlements. Today as the Project Director I am fighting against the stigma and discrimination that prevails against my community and violations of our rights. These experiences and learning’s have developed my confidence and ability to lead the CBO. Now I am respected in society.
“Since I am not married I am not eligible for Widow Pension so I support my mother and brothers and sisters with the honorarium I receive from the CBO and what I earn as a stage artist and from occasional sex work.
“In our community many sex workers do not marry and even if they do so they do not stay with their husbands because they have been divorced or deserted by them. Many also live with temporary husbands or permanent partners for the protection they get from them. These kinds of lives are common in our community but they can avail of pension only if they can produce a divorce certificate or death certificate of their husband. The government must look into this problem because they need pensions. Our community needs empathy for the lives we lead and not mercy.
“I am insisting that government give all single women a pension without documentary proof like divorce or marriage certificate because most of us don’t have either. A pension of Rs. 2000 will reduce our vulnerability and give us the confidence to live without depending on sex work”.