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The National Human Rights Commission of India is mandated by the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 to promote the human rights of all in the country. Hence, the commission in its Human Rights Advisory on Rights of Women in the context of Covid-19 dated 7th October, 2020 recognized Sex workers as “Women at Work”. Further, it directed the State Governments to provide assistance and relief to them by taking inspiration from Maharashtra government’s resolution dated 23rd July 2020. Sex Workers can be recognized and registered as “informal workers” so as to avail workers benefits. Moreover, temporary documents can be issued for them to access welfare measures since many of the workers don’t possess citizenry documents. Even migrant sex workers can avail benefits of migrant workers. Further it directed the Protection Officers to act on reports of violence against women. The advisory went on to ensure free access for testing and treatment for Covid-19 along with providing sanitizers and masks and ensure health services for prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and treatment for the same. 

The lockdown had an unprecedented effect which led to the loss of assorted jobs particularly within the informal sector where there’s no availability of food, source of cash and shelter and the disproportionately affected women cover a considerable proportion of such workers. The financial problem of those involved in work that’s already stigmatized like sex work increased rapidly. Sex work needs physical contact, which is restricted considering the COVID-19 outbreak, this hampered their wages. HIV-positive sex workers cannot use the antiretroviral therapy they require for his or her survival and various sex workers don’t seem to be within the scope of state schemes because they do not have identification documents. Access to health care is commonly challenging when one belongs to a marginalized community. Hence, the advisory introduced came as a relief amid the pandemic. 

The National Network of Sex Workers (NNSW) consider the advisory as a welcome step and great milestone in the journey of attaining maximum rights for sex workers in the country. It will also help bring about a change in the behavior of police and other law enforcement agencies towards them. It indeed is a moment of celebration for all the sex workers that are fighting every day to strengthen their identities and achieve their right to live and earn by providing sexual services without stigma, discrimination, and violence.

UN Convention on Illicit Organ Trading – Need of the Hour

Current status:

Illicit organ trafficking at a global level has turned into a lucrative market and unfortunately, this is a lesser discussed form of human trafficking. In 1991, the WHO’s guiding principles on organ transplantation were approved at the 44th World Health Assembly. In 2004, the World Health Assembly issued a resolution for all WHO member states to prohibit transplant tourism.  Further, it called for international cooperation through guidelines for ethical organ procurement based on suitability and safety. It also emphasized the need for cooperation from national oversight committees to ensure implementation. 

However, there is no organized body or all-encompassing piece of legislation or convention that deals with this menace at the international front. It is imperative for both developed and developing countries to formulate a systematized method to curb illicit organ trade.

Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs: 

The UN as of now has no convention in place whereas the European Union in 2015 introduced the above mentioned convention which was the first ever organ trafficking treaty signed by 14 European nations including Britain, Italy, etc. The purpose of the convention is to prevent and combat trafficking in human organs by providing for criminalization of certain acts.  The convention establishes criminal penalties on the non- consensual removal of organs and removal of organs for financial gain from or by the deceased donors. 

Illicit Organ Trade & the Sustainable Development Goals:

Among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the introduction of a convention banning illicit trade will further the aim of the 3rd SDG which is to provide good health and well-being of all. It will also address the issue of poverty, a major factor contributing in such illicit trade which is the 1st SDG namely, eradication of poverty. Moreover, banning illicit trade is essential to promote inclusive, sustainable economic growth and decent work for all which is the 8th SDG. 

Combating illicit organ trade is a lengthy  process but an internationally adopted convention is the first step for achieving it.