Commercial sex workers in India now have the option of purchasing life insurance policies, Smarajit Jana -- chief adviser to the group Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, or the Committee for Indomitable Women -- said Monday, AFP/Yahoo! News reports.
"Sex workers approached" the Life Insurance Corporation of India, "which agreed to provide insurance coverage," Jana said, adding, "We have started by signing up 199 sex workers in Sonagachi, one of Asia's largest red light districts, housing over 10,000 women involved in the business." Durbar Mahila Samanwaya represents 65,000 sex workers.
According to Gita Chatterjee of the state-run Life Insurance Corporation, the policy will require a "routine medical check-up for these women since they are at a high risk of HIV/AIDS." Although commercial sex work is illegal in India, the National AIDS Control Organisation estimates that there are about 1.2 million sex workers in the country. "Our target is to bring 50% of the sex workers of the country under the insurance coverage by 2008," Jana said. According to AFP/Yahoo! News, some sex workers hope that the option of purchasing life insurance will help their efforts to legalize their work (AFP/Yahoo! News, 5/19).
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