Patriarchy and Gender-Based Violence: Experiences of Female Sex Workers in India

Sharvari Karandikar, Caren Frost, Lindsay Gezinski


This qualitative study explored gender-based violence among female sex workers in India. Ten sex workers from Kamathipura, Asia’s largest red-light area based in Mumbai, were interviewed. Radical sexual pluralist feminist theory informed data analysis and data interpretation. Results revealed high incidence of gender-based violence with sex workers reporting intense physical and sexual violence and coercion from male partners, pimps and clients. The exposure to violence significantly contributed to sex workers’ inability to negotiate safe sex, leading to high HIV risks. The research highlights the lack of a sound policy on sex work in India and the drawbacks of the criminalization of sex work.

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