‘Without Us, Sex Workers will Die Like Weeds’: Sex Work and Client Violence in Kamathipura

Sharvari Karandikar and Lindsay B. Gezinski (2012): ‘Without Us, Sex Workers will Die Like Weeds’: Sex Work and Client Violence in Kamathipur, in: Indian Journal of Gender Studies October 2012 vol. 19 no. 3 351-371

This study explores male clients’ perceptions of gender-based violence against female sex workers of the Kamathipura red-light area in Mumbai, India. In-depth interviewing methods were used to collect data from 13 male clients. Three critical themes were identified: (1) male role transitioning from client to intimate partner to pimp; (2) male validation and rationalisation of sex work as a profession; and (3)patriarchal male perceptions resulting in violence against sex workers. Respondents emphasised the importance of legalising sex work so that women from ‘good’ families would not be raped. Respondents also admitted to using physical violence against sex workers on a regular basis. The findings of this study indicate the urgent need for gender sensitisation workshops for male intimate partners to break patriarchal values. Inclusion of males in community-based interventions to combat violence is also highly recommended.

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