Is blood donation a reality for women sex workers in the world today?

“The petition brought to light the violation of human rights and freedom that was being curbed due to this decision. The above-mentioned decision deprives willing participants who want to do good for the society from being a functioning and contributing member at par with any other regular individual with an earnest desire to help those in need.”

It is presumed that an appropriation of every two seconds there is an individual who requires blood.

Today, even more than before, the demand and supply gap in terms of blood donation is enormous in our country. Furthermore, this gap does not seem to be bridged any time soon. In such times it is essential to highlight the importance and urgency of blood requirement, which can only be gratified via discretionary blood donation. Scientifically speaking, 1 unit of blood is estimated to be able to save about three lives.

PC — News Deeply

Earlier this year, the Constitutional validity of a 2017 decision to preclude transgender, gay and female sex workers from donating blood by categorising them into a high-risk group was challenged in response to a PIL filed by Petitioner Thangjam Santa Singh in the Supreme Court.

The petition brought to light the violation of human right and freedom that was being curbed due to this decision.

The above-mentioned decision deprives willing participants who want to do good for society from being a functioning and contributing member at par with any other regular individual with an earnest desire to help those in need.

Other factors to consider in this regard is reasonability and scientific evidence that backs such sentiments. Whilst urging people to donate blood, and even when one is receiving donated blood, they are assured about its quality checks. All blood units collected from donors are tested for any infectious diseases that they may carry; this includes testing for Hepatitis B/C and HIV/AIDS. This goes to show the irony on the matter.

While the phrase ‘prevention is better than cure’ sounds good on paper, this should not be at the expense of trampling one’s human rights and dignity. Fending off willing blood donors whose contribution could prove to make a difference in someone’s life is not only an injustice to that individual but also to the one who is being deprived of a possible life-saving measure.

As per a 2014 study conducted by Imperial College London, it was found that there were no significant differences in the existence of HIV or syphilis between female sex workers and other females attendees. Even excluding this, there is limited definitive evidence about the presence of sexually active diseases or an increased risk of HIV and other blood-borne infections in sex workers.

Considering all the above-mentioned factors, the clause about permanently excluding them from donating blood and their categorisation as high-rise hinges on being based on the sexual nature of their jobs and the stigma that follows it. Thus, making it a violation of their rights to be treated equally as any average blood donor.

This prohibition affects sex worker communities from both donating or receiving blood, a healing requisite, during the public health crisis amid the ongoing pandemic.

As a result of negative stereotyping and social stigma, female sex workers are being denied the chance to simply be equal in terms of contributing to society. This reasoning stands to be not only unreasonable but also completely arbitrary.

As per a 2017 report on BBC news, blood donation for sex workers was to be relaxed in England and Scotland after improvements were found by The Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs, UK. The change states that sex workers are were previously barred from donating blood can now do so three months after their last sexual activity. The community stated that improved technologies allow them to identify any virus or harmful element in the blood within that time frame.

This stands to question, whether the validity behind the exclusion of blood donors is based on actual or perceived risk. There is to put a stop to discrimination based on sexual identity and jobs, especially when it is at the cost of hampering the health and rights of those in need of help.

Although small and still geographically restricted, this is a step towards the victory of science over stigmatised assumptions about blood donation by sex workers. This, along with the urgency of the pandemic, could be the precipice to a positive change. A step towards a world where prejudiced rules won’t hold back any individual from being able to help their loved ones in need or being an instancing, contributing member of society.

Originally published at https://www.fuzia.com.

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