Police worried about threat posed by sex workers

COVID-19 crisis


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Deputy Inspector General of Police and attorney-at-law Ajith Rohana, yesterday (17), said that sex workers and their clients posed a threat to on-going efforts to contain coronavirus.

Asked whether law enforcement authorities had implemented a special programme to minimise the threat posed by sex workers and those who worked at spas, DIG Rohana said that the spas had remained closed since late March though sex workers and their clients remained a serious threat.

‘We have to be extremely cautious as fresh clusters of covid-19 patients can reverse all that has been achieved in combatting the deadly virus," Rohana told The Island.

Responding to a query, Rohana said that though the issue was not being discussed openly, sex workers and their clients could worsen the situation. The top police official said that spas couldn’t be allowed to operate because of the nature of their business. DIG Rohana noted that the police had conducted a significant number of raids on brothels which operated in the guise of spas.

"When people are repeatedly advised not even to shake hands or use cutlery as vital precautionary measures, spas cannot be allowed under any circumstances," Rohana said. "Let me stress, the threat is certainly not over. Will have to religiously follow health guidelines for some time, if we are to survive the marauding disease," the attorney-at-law said. One unfaithful person could trigger a fresh crisis, DIG Rohana warned, adding that the media could play a role in discouraging those who sought carnal pleasures at the expense of the wellbeing of the society.

DIG Rohana warned of dire consequences unless the public adhered to instructions issued by health authorities to prevent a major outbreak in the wake of gradual lifting of countrywide restrictions. The DIG pointed out how one resident of Suduwella, Ja-ela caused a major crisis that at one time threatened the entire covid-19 control programme. Suduwella incident led to the contamination of Navy personnel and all knows what it caused, DIG Rohana said.

The official acknowledged that though an indefinite curfew remained in operation in Colombo and Gampaha districts with the entire country under curfew on Sunday (Saturday, May 16, 8 pm to Monday, May 18, 5 am), there were many curfew breakers. Since the imposition of curfew in March, the police arrested well over 50,000 curfew breakers, DIG Rohana said, alleging that some behaved callously at the expense of overall public health.

DIG Rohana pointed out that the number of curfew violators passed 50,000 mark before the total number of covid-19 patients reached 1,000.

The Island also sought an explanation from DIG Rohana, regarding social media taking on him over pictures taken with female media personnel posted online alleging that the top police spokesman failed to maintain the much repeated one meter distance from others. DIG Rohana said that he obliged when some media personnel wanted pictures taken with him at the end of a live programme last Wednesday (13) at a television station. DIG Rohana said that he was in uniform and never expected the pictures to be posted online in such a manner to ridicule his role in educating the public. DIG Rohana said that social media could be quite a nuisance.

DIG Rohana said that one of the key areas to be cautiously watched is activity going at spas. Meanwhile, the National STD/AIDS Control Programme yesterday (17) said that it couldn’t discuss with media its work. Recently, the National Programme said that plans were afoot to launch a special project to subject sex workers, including beach boys, to RT-PCR tests, as part of the government strategy to curb the highly contagious.

Programme Director Dr. Rasanjalee Hettiarachchi said that they conducted awareness programmes to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, among the community, in addition to providing essential services to those who regularly received treatment from the clinics of the National STD/AIDS Control Programme.


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