My name is Pitta Rajani and I am 28 years old. I live with my family in the village of Kandriga, in the district of Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. We face frequent financial difficulties and I worked in the sex trade to help my family. My husband’s job as a day laborer also did not bring in enough money. Once the pandemic started things turned from bad to worse and we both lost our incomes.

Sex workers across the country face discrimination and many have been forced to take out high interest loans from unscrupulous pawn shops

While in lockdown, I had no job and had to take out a loan to make ends meet. I contacted a private lender named Soubhagya * and took a loan of Rs 20,000 of her. She realized how desperate our situation was and demanded interest of Rs 10 for Rs 100. We had no choice, so we agreed.

I had to pay an interest of Rs. 2,000 each month in addition to my monthly payments.

The usurer realizes that we are desperate and forces us to pay double the original amount. Soubhagya it’s meinsist that we pay Rs 4,000 instead of the originally agreed amount of Rs 2,000. She threatened my family and I fear for our safety.

She arrives in front of my house and begins to mistreat us in front of the neighbors. Now she threatens to call the police and tell them that I still work as a sex worker.

I want to destigmatize the negative impression that exists around sex workers. People like the pawnshop and the police always take advantage of our plight and demand extremely high interest rates and bribes. We are also in constant fear of our safety.

It is also impossible to find other work because jobs are scarce and because of the discrimination that exists against hiring people who are sex workers or former sex workers. Our situation is very bad and no one seems to care.

Edited by Diya Koshy George

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