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Goyal, Yugank. ‘Responsibilization through Regulatory Intermediaries in Informal Markets: Examining the Governance of Prostitution in India’. Regulation & Governance, Early View. https://doi.org/10.1111/rego.12298.

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“Independent” sex work outside red light areas in big cities in developing countries is an understudied phenomenon. Through a survey of independent sex workers in Delhi, India, this paper sheds light on the governance of independent prostitution. It shows that in the sex work industry, which is informal in nature and faces a complex legal architecture, regulatory intermediaries (RIs) drive both regulation and responsibilization strategies. On behalf of the state, the police act as regulatory intermediaries, implementing hierarchical regulation. In red light areas, sex workers’ collectives and solidarity networks operate as RIs on behalf of workers. But in independent sex work, it is pimps who act as intermediaries for workers, driving their responsibilization strategies. Independent sex workers take up the services of pimps even though they charge hefty fees, in large part because pimps can negotiate their protection from the police. I examine several characteristics of the relationships between prostitutes, pimps, clients, and the police, and refine the RIT model of regulatory intermediaries (Abbott et al. 2017) in the context of prostitution in a developing country.

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Hui, Neha, and Uma S. Kambhampati. 2020. ‘Stigma and Labour Market Outcomes: Sex Work and Domestic Work in India’. The Journal of Development Studies 56 (1): 112–28. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220388.2018.1564906.
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In this paper, we examine whether the earnings of sex workers in India are significantly different from those in domestic work, a trade that is also gendered in nature and can be done with similarly low levels of training and education. We analyse this using data collected during fieldwork in the cities of Kolkata and Delhi in India. Our results confirm that there is a significant difference in wages between the two groups of workers. We consider the extent to which the stigma attached to sex work contributes to the higher wages in this occupation relative to domestic work. To do this, we control for endogeneity caused by selection on unobservables. We find that stigma is a significant contributory factor to the wage differential. We also preliminarily consider an alternate explanation – that of violence in the trade. We find that the experience of violence in the trade does not affect the take home earnings of the individuals.

Chetry, Pooja, and Rekha Pande. 2019. ‘Gender Bias and the Sex Trafficking Interventions in the Eastern Border of India–Nepal’. South Asian Survey, August, 0971523119862476. https://doi.org/10.1177/0971523119862476.
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The present article looks at gender bias and sex trafficking interventions in the eastern border of India–Nepal. It attempts to understand the socio-economic conditions and other influencing factors that circumscribe a woman’s migration. It documents the interventions by anti-trafficking networks and explores the experience of intercepted women. It attempts to show how interception methods as techniques of intervention to combat trafficking in persons are gender biased. Interception, as a primary method of intervention, is used by anti-trafficking organisations to prevent the occurrence of human trafficking cases in its origin/source country. On suspicion, a woman or a girl crossing the border alone or in all-female groups is stopped and intercepted by the anti-trafficking activists on the ground of her being a potential victim of sex trafficking. Such interception generally takes place within 3 km radius of the border of Panitanki, India, to Kakarbitta, Nepal in order to prevent the unsafe and illegal migration of girls/women. The cross-questioning method is used to extract information and validation about her identity and travel. This article, therefore, examines interception methods as techniques of intervention to combat trafficking in persons. It shows how this intervention method in certain aspect is patriarchal in its form. It reinforces the patriarchal belief of women’s vulnerability in the absence of male authority leading to discreet dangers.

Over the past two decades there has been a growing body of academic and community-based literature on sex workers’ lives and work. However, the discourses, laws, and policies that impact sex workers are continually changing, and critical perspectives are constantly needed. Therefore, this Special Issue of the Anti-Trafficking Review highlights some of the current achievements of – and challenges faced by – the global sex worker rights movement.

Contributors examine the ways in which organising and collectivisation have enabled sex workers to speak up for themselves and tell their own stories, claim their human, social, and labour rights, resist stigma and punitive laws and policies, and provide mutual and peer-based support. The contexts in focus include Canada, Latin America and Caribbean, United States, France, South Africa, India, Thailand and the Philippines.

Published: 2019-04-29
Ray, Sawmya. 2018. „In a State of Limbo: Women, Sex Industry and Anti-Trafficking Interventions in Assam“. Sociological Bulletin, Juni, 0038022918775499. https://doi.org/10.1177/0038022918775499.
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This article attempts to understand anti-trafficking interventions in Assam with special reference to sex trafficking. It critically analyses ideologies determining the functioning of anti-trafficking networks and its impact on combating sex trafficking. Of specific concern is to understand the ways in which policies of rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration are implemented and whether such implementation places at its centre the standpoint of the marginalised, that is, women in commercial sex—trafficked or otherwise. This article is based on data collected from rescued trafficked women, current sex workers, state and non-state anti-trafficking personnel, observation at shelter homes and case studies. It argues that anti-trafficking networks in Assam work within the neo-abolitionist approach resulting in the patronisation and infantilisation of women in commercial sex. Despite its effectiveness in certain aspects, it more often than not leaves these women in a state of limbo.

While much has been said about the risks and safety issues experienced by female sex workers in India, there is a considerable dearth of information about the difficulties and problems that sex work researchers, especially female researchers, experience when navigating the highly political, ideological, and stigmatized environment of the Indian sex industry. As noted by scholars, there are several methodological and ethical issues involved with sex work research, such as privacy and confidentiality of the participants, representativeness of the sample, and informed consent. Yet, there has been reluctance among scholars to comment on their research process, especially with regard to how they deal with the protocols for research ethics when conducting social and behavioral epidemiological studies among female sex workers in India and elsewhere. Drawing on my 7 months of field-based ethnographic research with “flying” or non-brothel-based female sex workers in Kolkata, India, I provide in this article a reflexive account of the problems encountered in implementing the research process, particularly the ethical and safety issues involved in gaining access and acceptance into the sex industry and establishing contact and rapport with the participants. In doing so, it is my hope that future researchers can develop the knowledge necessary for the design of ethical and non-exploitative research projects with sex workers.

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This study examines whether working with a broker increases or reduces the payment received for the last client among female sex workers. Building on research on the informal economy and sex work, we formulate a positive embeddedness hypothesis, expecting a positive association, and an exploitation hypothesis, expecting a negative association. We analyze a large survey combined with intensive interview data on female sex workers in Andhra Pradesh, India. These data uniquely distinguish between the amount the sex worker actually received and the amount the client paid. The analyses show that brokers are associated with significantly lower last payment received. Although brokers are associated with a greater number of clients in the past week, this does not result in significantly higher total earnings in the past week. Further analyses suggest that much of the negative relationship with earnings is due to the fact that brokers lead to a lack of control over the amount clients are charged. At the same time, the results fail to show that brokers actually provide services of value. Ultimately, the results support the exploitation hypothesis. We conclude by encouraging the refinement of theories of embeddedness and exploitation and calling for greater research on workers in the informal economy of developing countries.

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The concept of ‘human dignity’ sits at the heart of international human rights law and a growing number of national constitutions and yet its meaning is heavily contested and contingent. I aim to supplement the theoretical literature on dignity by providing an empirical study of how the concept is used in the specific context of legal discourse on sex work. I will analyse jurisprudence in which commercial sex was declared as incompatible with human dignity, focussing on the South African Constitutional Court case of S v Jordan and the Indian Supreme Court case of Budhadev Karmaskar v State of West Bengal. I will consider how these courts conceptualise dignity and argue that their conclusions on the undignified nature of sex work are predicated on particular sexual norms that privilege emotional and relational intimacy. In light of the stigma faced by sex workers I will explore how a discourse, proclaiming sex work as beneath human dignity, may impact on the way that sex workers are perceived and represented culturally, arguing that it reinforces stigma. I will go on to examine how sex workers subvert the notion that commercial sex is undignified, and resist stigma, by campaigning for the right to sell sex with dignity. I will demonstrate that an alternative legal approach to dignity and sex work is possible, where the two are not considered as inherently incompatible, concluding with thoughts on the risks and benefits of using ‘dignity talk’ in activism and campaigns for sex work law reform.

 

A tale of two cities: Shifting the paradigm of anti-trafficking programmes. Smarajit Jana, Nandinee Bandyopadhyay , Mrinal Kanti Dutta , Amitrajit Saha. Gender & Development Vol. 10, Iss. 1, 2002

Abstract:

This article examines the issue of trafficking from the perspective of some sex worker organisations in India and Bangladesh. It argues that inequality between classes, genders, and nations is the root cause of trafficking, and that the solution to the problem lies in a political struggle for the rights of marginalised people. To substantiate these arguments, this article draws on the life stories of trafficked people, and on the preventative anti-trafficking initiatives of sex workers’ organisations. In order to understand the ways in which trafficking violates people’s rights and restricts their control over their lives we need to focus on the outcomes of trafficking rather than debating the processes through which trafficking takes place. Those who have been trafficked should not be perceived as passive victims of their circumstances, manipulated by others, but as human agents, who can – and often do – fight to gain control over their lives. The article offers a brief introduction and some guidance to some of the challenges that NGOs will face in their advocacy work on trafficking issues.

Full article available here.