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"Paytm accepted here" signs emerge in Nagpur's red light district – is flesh trade set to become a cashless deal in the demonetization era?
Life in the demonetization era can be tough. Ask any common man on the street and he shall have his own dejected tale to tell. Thousand have lost their livelihoods post demonetization and have been forced to return back to their native villages as they have no work left in the cities.

This cash crunch has even hit India's flesh trade prompting some people to push for the use of electronic wallet, sensing a good business opportunity in India's brothels. One would be taken aback today while visiting the tight bylanes of the Ganga Jamuna red light area of Nagpur that display signs reading `Paytm accepted here'. Although, the commercial sex workers of the area claim that they have no idea about what Paytm is!

A woman of the area who is in her 50s, wondering how a person could pay through a mobile phone, said, "It was the Red Cross madam who pasted the pamphlets. She said we will get money through it under some government scheme."

"What is Paytm?" asks Rani, a CSW from Gwalior. She adds further, "The notices have been here since a month. But none of us knows anything except that the Red Cross people stuck it." However, according to sources, a few sex workers have already started using this mode of payment.

A CSW hailing from Odisha says, "The last two months were tough. It's difficult for us to even pay our children's fees now. Earlier, we used to earn nearly Rs 1,000 to 1,500 a day but income has come down to negligible. The police patrols have made it worse."

The Red Cross Society operates a clinic in the red light area for promoting HIV awareness and health care of the CSWs. Although many CSWs linked to the Red Cross Society have bank accounts, but they lack the knowledge of net banking or any such facility. A lot of CSWs claimed that they did not have bank accounts.

Dr RP Singh, secretary of Red Cross Society, Nagpur, says, "The Paytm agents had approached us for help since they wanted to push the product in this area. We have not assured them any cooperation so far."

On the other hand, CSWs of the area have named Hemlatha Lohave, an NGO woman of the area for pasting these Paytm signs. According to a local leader, if any NGO is behind this, it means that they are encouraging flesh trade.

With inputs from Times of India.

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