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.
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.