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Abstract
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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.

Abstract

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.

Background

Community mobilization is a participatory intervention strategy used among Female Sex Workers (FSW’s) to address HIV risks through behavior change and self empowerment. This study quantitatively measure and differentiate theoretically defined forms of FSW participation’s and identify their contextual associated factors.

Method

Data was derived from cross-sectional Integrated Bio Behavioral Assessment conducted among FSW’s in Andhra Pradesh (AP) (n = 3370), Maharashtra (MH) (n = 3133) and Tamil Nadu (TN) (n = 2140) of India during 2009-2010. Information’s about socio-demography, community mobilization and participation experiences were collected. Conceptual model for two contexts of mobilization entailing distinct FSW participations were defined as participation in “collective” and “public” spaces respectively. Bivariate and multiple regression analysis were used.

Result: The level of participation in “collective” and “public” spaces was lowest in MH (43.9% & 11.7% respectively), higher in TN (82.2% &22.5% respectively) and AP (64.7%&33.1%). Bivariate and multivariate regression analysis highlighted the distinct nature of “participations” through their varied associations with FSW mobilization and background status.

In MH, street FSWs showed significantly lower collective participation (36.5%) than brothel FSWs (46.8%) and street FSWs showed higher public participation (16.2%) than brothel FSWs (9.7%). In AP both collective and public participation were significantly high among street FSWs (62.7% and 34.7% respectively) than brothel FSW’s (55.2% and 25.4% respectively).

Regression analysis showed FSWs with “community identity”, were more likely to participate in public spaces in TN and AP (AOR 2.4, 1.5-3.8 & AOR 4.9, CI 2.3-10.7) respectively. FSWs with “collective identity” were more likely to participate in collective spaces in TN, MH and AP (AOR 27.2 CI 13.7-53.9; AOR 7.3, CI 3.8-14.3; AOR 5.7 CI 3-10.9 respectively). FSWs exhibiting “collective agency” were more likely to participate in public spaces in TN, MH and AP (AOR 2.3 CI 1-3.4; AOR 4.5- CI 2.6-7.8; AOR 2.2 CI 1.5-3.1) respectively.

Conclusion

Findings reveal FSWs participation as a dynamic process inherently evolving along with the community mobilization process in match with its contexts. Participation in “Collective” and Public spaces” is indicators, symbolizing FSWs passage from the disease prevention objectives towards empowerment, which would help better understand and evaluate community mobilization interventions.

Abstract

Several studies have cited economic hardships or poverty as the main reason for women’s entry into sex work in India. While this may be true, it is still a vague reason. For better understanding and to develop meaningful intervention, we need to dig deeper and find more specific reasons for women’s entry into sex work. In addition, while most studies conducted among sex workers in India rely on survey-based approaches to explore women’s reasons for entry into sex work, there have been no studies to date which have used cultural biography to examine how sex work becomes a livelihood option for women in Indian society. Based on the analysis of the 46 short-life portraits and three life-history interviews collected from ‘flying’ or mobile female sex workers over a period of 7 months (December 2009–July 2010) in Kolkata, India, this paper examines the socio-cultural and economic factors that influence women’s decisions to enter into sex work. This study found that women choose sex work vis-à-vis other employment opportunities because it provides them with more freedom and autonomy over their bodies, higher earnings, flexible hours of work, and much flexibility to manage their dual responsibilities of a nurturer and provider. Because of this complex structure of causation, HIV prevention programs must address the larger issues of workplace sexual harassment, minimum living wage and child day care policy to disincentivize women’s entry into the sex industry.

Sanjeev Singh Gaikwad, Amrita Bhende, Gaurav Nidhi, Niranjan Saggurti and Virupax Ranebennur, “How effective is community mobilisation in HIV prevention among highly diverse sex workers in urban settings? The Aastha intervention experience in Mumbai and Thane districts, India” Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 66(suppl 2): ii69-ii77, 2012.

Abstract:

Background This paper examines the association between degree of confidence in collective efficacy and self-efficacy for condom use and empowerment among heterogeneous female sex workers (FSWs) in two metropolitan Indian cities with high HIV prevalence.

Methods The study utilises data from the Behavioural Tracking Survey, a cross-sectional behavioural study with 2106 FSWs recruited from 411 intervention sites in Mumbai and Thane. The key independent measures used determine the degree of confidence in collective efficacy (belief in the power to achieve goals and address problems together) and outcome measures included: self-efficacy for condom use with occasional clients and condom use with regular partners, self-confidence in handling a crisis situation and public speaking ability. Univariate and multivariate statistical methods were used to examine the study objectives.

Results Of the analytical sample of 2106 FSWs, 532 (25.3%) reported high degree of collective efficacy for achieving certain goals and 1534 (72.8%) reported collective efficacy for addressing specific problems. FSWs reporting a higher collective efficacy as compared with those reporting lower collective efficacy were as follows: more likely to negotiate condom use with occasional clients (60.3% vs 19.7%; adjusted OR (AOR) ¼6.3, 95% CI 4.8 to 8.4) as well as regular partners (62.8% vs 20.2%; AOR ¼6.4, 95% CI 4.9 to 8.4); confident in facing troublesome stakeholders (73.5% vs 38.8%; AOR ¼4.3, 95% CI 3.3 to 5.6), confident in supporting fellow FSWs in a crisis (76.1% vs 49.6%; AOR ¼2.9, 95% CI 2.2 to 3.7), received help from other FSWs when a client or partner was violent (73.9% vs 46.3%; AOR ¼3.5, 95% CI 2.7 to 4.5) and had stood up to the police or madams/brokers to help fellow FSWs in the past 1 year (5.8% vs 3.3%; AOR ¼2.7, 95% CI 1.5 to 4.9).

Conclusion The results suggest that the strategy of collectivisation in HIV prevention programme has much broader benefits than merely the promotion of safer sex practices. Future HIV prevention interventions in India and elsewhere may include collectivisation as the core strategy within HIV prevention programmes.

Full text available here.