A survey by the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) shows that 22.5% of the sex workers were addicted to marijuana, heroin and other drugs. At least 75% of the sex workers surveyed were either randomly or regularly using various addictive substances such as gutkha and cigarettes.
The report prepared by DCW along with NGO STOP is based on a survey of a representative sample of 400 sex workers carried out at the end of 2008 and collated into a study.
The survey states that 90% of the sex workers constantly chew tobacco mainly to kill their appetite and deal with stress, 57.5% smoke and 20% consume alcohol. At least 10% revealed that they had used heroin and another 5% had smoked marijuana. At least 7.5% admitted to have tried other varieties of drugs.
As per the study, 70.7% of the respondents said that they want to quit substance abuse but are finding it extremely difficult to do so. The DCW report asserts: ‘‘GB Road has a huge market for drugs and one exploitative industry is supporting illegal trade of deadly drugs.’’
DCW has recommended state government to take active steps for proactive investigation and look at various aspects interlinked with the issue of trafficking like the growing drug trade in the brothels. The report talks of bringing together all stakeholders to deal with with the issue.
A closer look at the lives of the sex workers unravels the reasons for drug abuse. Erratic sleeping patterns and multiple customers leave most sex workers stressed out and worried. The data shows that 60% of the respondents were unable to get adequate sleep while another 33.3% complained of tension.
Besides this, health problems abound among sex workers. As many as 46.5% of those surveyed admitted to have suffered from sexually transmitted diseases. That many are vulnerable to HIV\AIDS is highlighted by the fact that 50.5% sex workers admitted to not using condoms. The remaining of the respondents said that they were using protection.
According to social activists, sex workers end up getting hooked to alcohol as the customers sometimes carry their own liquor and the sex workers themselves too offer liquor to appease customers. Some of the clients even carry potent drugs like heroin and ask the sex workers to try them.