Research

We conducted a preliminary study on caste based forced sex work, in fifteen states across India. The study was commissioned by Jan Sahas, a civil society organization that works toward the prevention of sexual violence against women and girls. Within the Indian subcontinent, the majority of women and girls in sex work are from minority communities, namely Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Muslim populations. The primary circumstances within which women and girls enter sex work continue to be poverty and caste. Given this socio-economic context, their entry into sex work can be considered a choice within a series of compromised choices for survival and subsistence. There is also a triple burden of exploitation carried by women and girls from these communities who are oppressed on the basis of caste, class and gender (and in certain contexts, religion).  The focus of this study was on forms of sex work that are dictated and enforced by caste identity, in the name of Tradition, Duty, Family responsibility amongst other kinds of legitimacy. This form of sex work leads to violence against minor girls, who are initiated as early as 10-12 years of age. Through interviews and focus group discussions, the study attempted to capture the experiences of women and girls who enter this work ; the perspectives of  community members who are often complicit in sustaining this practice and offers recommendations and learnings for the way forward for policy makers and organizations.

(The report is yet to be released