The channels through which people buy and sell in-person sex may be permanently changing.

Red Light Refracted: Impacts of COVID-19 on Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Maharashtra

  • Commercial Sexual Exploitation
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    In the wake of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, persons in India’s commercial sex industry have faced social and economic upheaval.

    On March 24, the government of India announced a nationwide lockdown to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, leaving those who depend on commercial sex work for survival vulnerable to food insecurity, eviction/homelessness, and debilitating indebtedness. Persons in the commercial sex industry have been largely excluded from the Indian government’s economic stimulus and relief efforts due to lack of proper documentation, lack of access to required technology, out-of-state residency status, low literacy levels, and fear of stigma.

    This policy brief presents findings from a rapid assessment conducted to assess the multi-faceted impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on commercial sexual exploitation in Maharashtra, India.

    Key findings at a glance

    1. Since COVID-19, demand for in-person sex has dropped while demand for virtual sex has grown. However, these trends are likely temporary.
    2. The channels through which people buy and sell in-person sex may be permanently changing.
    3. Vulnerability to CSEC has increased dramatically since the pandemic started and will likely continue long after it ends

    For more findings and recommendations, download the briefing.

    Interested in even more information? Download the full report for more details on findings, implications, and methodology.

    *This brief was prepared with support from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of FCDO or GFEMS.

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