Survival sex in Sri Lanka’s crippled northBy Asia Sentinel Oct 13, 2013 10:41AM UTC
War and death make it a necessity, reports Asia Sentinel
Their husbands dead or missing, more women are being forced to turn to survival sex as family breadwinners in Sri Lanka’ northern former war zone.
According to estimates by local groups working with women to boost their incomes, the number of women engaged in sex work is said to be as many as 7,000, considered by some as a conservative estimate.
Vishaka Dharmadasa, head of the Association of War Affected Women, an NGO based in Kandy (Central Province) that has programming in the north on livelihood and public health, told IRIN: “This was a new finding during a [local] household survey on women-headed households and livelihood requirements. They are under immense pressure to provide for families in homes where men are either dead or reported missing. It has made a sizeable percentage of women to reluctantly turn to sex work.”
The government estimates there were over 59,000 women-headed households in the island’s north in 2012.
“They bear economic burdens once carried by their fathers, husbands or brothers. Poverty and lack of options are driving women to adopt commercial sex as an income generator,” Dharmadasa added.
She told IRIN the “strong” military presence in the north, along with men from the south taking jobs in the north’s building boom, were “somewhat regular reasons for an increase in commercial sex”.
In addition, an increased number of Sri Lankan-born Tamils from the diaspora visiting their place of origin since fighting ended four years ago, has also increased demand for commercial sex, Shanthini Vairamuttu, a community worker from the district of Jaffna, told IRIN.
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