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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.