[Survivor Series] I am struggling to repay a loan I took to save my son's life

In this week's Survivor Series, Bhanupriya tells us that with no source of income during the second wave of the pandemic, she was forced to take a high-risk loan
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My name is Bhanupriya. I am 25 years old and I live in Chirala in Andhra Pradesh. I live in a rented house but am struggling to make ends meet ever since the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, I used to make ends meet as a sex worker. But now, I am facing immense financial difficulties due to the lockdown and consequent restrictions by the government during the second wave. The restriction and the preventive measures and protocols enforced by the state including restrictions on people's mobility meant that there have been no customers, which has significantly impacted our income. 

 

The ration kits that were given to sex workers during the first wave stopped during the second wave when governments focussed on the burdened healthcare system

In addition to there being no source of income, which means we are barely able to make ends meet, my son fell very ill during the lockdown. He needs regular medication and check-ups by the doctor, which has been very expensive.

 

I had no choice but to take a loan of Rs. 60, 000/- from a private money lender named Apparao at an interest of Rs. 7 per hundred rupees. I am struggling to repay the loan but he keeps coming to our house whenever I miss an interest payment and makes a lot of noise in front of the neighbours. He becomes highly abusive and threatens to evict us or take away all our possessions including the utensils. 

But, I am helpless as there are no jobs available and I am not even able to repay the interest leave alone the loan amount. 

I also know that I am not alone in this. A lot of people have, many of whom have survived sex trafficking and sex workers have been forced to take loans to cope and feed their families. During the first wave, we had access to free rations and cash support from the government. During the second wave, we got nothing because I think everyone’s focus was on the healthcare system. People like me were forced to take unreasonable loans that we are all struggling every day to pay back.

All we can do is take it one day at a time to survive.

Edited by Diya Koshy George

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