Hundreds of sex workers who have been involved in prostitution have asked government to include them in a number of measures aimed at cushioning small- and medium-sized businesses, since they have been ordered out of the streets to prevent spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19.)
Ministrer of Gender, Child Development and Community Development Mary Thom Navicha said all sex workers should move out of the streets to avoid contracting Covid-19.
However, the sex workers said – like other service providers – they will struggle financially, hence call for government to consider them with “rescue packages.”
“ I will need to eat, how will I pay rent to room owner are the questions before me,” said one sex worker only identified as Esther in Blantyre.
Another sex worker using an alia ‘Abiti Chezunana’, who is in her 50s, is worried about how to earn money to sustain her livelihood in these unprecedented times.
But in a statement, minister Navicha announced that the ministry has paid cash for 4 months from March to June 2020 to all beneficiaries of social cash transfer to meet their needs during this difficult period.
The government will also increase loans under the Malawi Enterprise Development Fund that will help micro, small and medium scale businesses that have been seriously affected by the pandemic to 15 billion Malawi kwacha ($20.69 million) from 12 billion kwacha which sex workers can tap into.
The minister noted that cases of child and gender based violence might increase during this time. She advised victims to dial helpline number 5600, and child abuse the victims to dial the child helpline 116.
“In addition, community victim support units should continue to provide essential services using telephone and with safety precautions. Members of the public are encouraged to look out for neighbours and individuals at risk and call the help line mentioned above,” she said.
Malawi has recorded nine cases of the coronavirus and the most recent case has been confirmed this morning.