Fri, 19 Aug 2022

Colombo [Sri Lanka], July 31 (ANI): As Sri Lanka is gripped under a reeling economic crisis, numerous women in the country have changed their professions and turned to prostitution for daily meals.

Sri Lanka is battling the worst economic crisis since its independence and this dire situation has resulted in the emergence of makeshift brothels in the country.

The women of the textile industries who lost their jobs are now forced to become sex workers to earn a livelihood and support their families which are on the brink of starvation, according to Stand-up Movement Lanka (SUML), a group that works for the rights of sex workers.

Sri Lanka is facing an acute shortage of fuel, food and foreign exchange and the people of the island nation are longing for IMF to give it a bailout package.

22 million Sri Lankans are facing enormous hardships and most of them are having a tough time running their households with daily struggles to procure food, fuel and essential items.

Due to the unprecedented crisis, there has been an increase of 30 per cent in prostitution in the last few months and some of these establishments operate as spas and wellness centres. Many say this is the only way to provide their families with three meals a day.

"Women working in the textile industry are resorting to 'sex work' after being fired due to the economic crisis," Ashila Dandeniya, Executive Director, SUML told ANI.

"Due to the current crisis, we have noticed that many women are taking up prostitution. Most of them are from the textile industry. After Covid, the textiles industries were affected and many jobs were cut and now the current situation is forcing them into sex work for their livelihoods," she said.

21-year-old Rehana (name changed) shared her story with ANI about how she turned from an employee of the textile industry to a sex worker. Rehana lost her job seven months ago and after months and months of despair, she took up prostitution. "In December last year, I lost my job in a textile factory. Then, I got another job on a daily basis. Sometimes, when the manpower was less, I used to go and work. But I could not get the money as I did not get it regularly and it was too little to take care of my needs and that of the family. Then, a spa owner approached me and I decided to work as a sex worker due to the current crisis. My mind refused to accept the offer but I was in dire need of money to fend my family," she said while speaking to ANI.

42-year-old Rozy (name changed) is another one of the many who became a sex worker. A mother of a seven-year-old, she was divorced and she had to earn enough to pay for her daughter's education and rent.

"Income is insufficient due to the economic crisis. Money is not enough for my family's domestic needs. That's why I chose this. I run a shop and I have to pay to keep it running. Because of this problem many prostitutes are now there," she told ANI.

The major reason behind women opting for prostitution in Sri Lanka is that girls and women who used to earn LKR 20,000 to 30,000 a month, get about LKR 15,000-20,000 in a day.

However, the practice has led to many problems, said the Executive Director of SUML.

"Many sex workers started living with their partners but due to the crisis the partner had to leave many girls. Many of them have become pregnant also at present we have two girls who are pregnant and we need to take care of them and we are not getting help anywhere even from the government," she said.

Sri Lanka's economy is bracing for a sharp contraction due to the unavailability of basic inputs for production, an 80 per cent depreciation of the currency since March 2022, coupled with a lack of foreign reserves, and the country's failure to meet its international debt obligations. (ANI)

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