| Counsellors at a centre for sex workers at Bishrampur village in Rohtas. Picture by Sanjay Choudhury |
Over 100 children of two villages inhabited by sex workers in Rohtas district have found a lifeline from a Chennai-based social organisation that has adopted the two hamlets and taken up the responsibility of the minors’ welfare.
The organisation, Gems, has from June started providing education, healthcare and other facilities to the children in Banarasia and Karma villages under Sasaram block of Rohtas, about 170km southwest of Patna. Their parents have either been diagnosed HIV-positive or have died of AIDS. “Some children enrolled in the Our People Project are orphans and diagnosed HIV-positive,” projector co-ordinator David Alfard, alias, Raja said.
He added that the organisation was providing tuition to 75 children in Bishrampur and 25 in Banarasia, from 7am to 8am and 3pm to 5pm. They attend classes in local government schools during day.
The organisation also holds medical camps in the two villages. “We collect samples of the sex workers for western blot test. We provide medicines to those found HIV-positive. We also conduct counselling sessions at these villages,” Alfard said. Western blot test is an analytical technique used to detect specific proteins in tissue samples.
Dharmendra Singh, the HIV counsellor of Rohtas, said altogether 370 people have been diagnosed HIV-positive in various parts of the district. He added that a survey was conducted by non-government organisation Surag, which identified 370 people in the high-risk category.
The survey was carried out in Beda, Bishrampur, Sabrabad, Amri, Agrer, Natwar, Sahri, Barheta, Masihabad, Sasaram and Dehri. The maximum number of HIV-positive cases (72) was found at Sahri, followed by Amri (70), Sabrabad (69) and Dehri (66).
Rohtas civil surgeon Ramji Singh said: “I assumed charge recently and have called a me-eting of officials concerned.”
Banarasia (Beda) and Karma are inhabited by nautch girls, who go to places like Varanasi, Calcutta, Mumbai and New Delhi. There have been reports of some girls going to countries like Saudi Arabia. “They are bona fide citizens and have ration cards and voter identity cards,” said a resident.
He added that the dancers have got licence from the district authorities to carry on with their profession and even pay professional taxes.