The disruptions in sex work due to demonetisation were not merely about the cash crunch though. Probing deeper, the real problems were to do with a breakdown in the rituals of soliciting, and what it meant behaviourally for the women.
For many of us careening to adulthood at the time, these films pushed us to confront our own biases. They asked us to stand in Diane and Mansi’s shoes and ask ourselves, what would we have done? Would we spend one night with a man (Robert Redford, no less) for a million dollars? Would we be able to resist the option that opened up to Mansi? And the truth of it was that this was a difficult question to answer.
As soon as you add sexuality to a piece about money, the first instinct generally is to reduce it all to sex, leaving the “-uality” like a little invisible tail feather that flutters away into the unknown.
She was 17 when she was rescued from a dance bar. Now she’s 18 and she wants to go back. As an adult. And dance again. That’s what Alisha wrote in a letter to the Child Welfare Committee.
Alisha’s letter may be one of a kind. It doesn’t matter. It may even be a scam of sorts, in that she was pushed to write it. Doesn’t matter. What’s interesting is the jumble that it throws up, if you look at her choices through eyes that are not hers.
The feminist classic sex work vs prostitution debate was played out in this context in a way that was different from what happens in cis feminist spaces. In the eyes of this narrator, cis feminists who have never engaged in sex work have a lot to learn from travestis and trans women. First of all: the respect.
Not only has evolving discourse on sexuality influenced the fate of how sex work is understood, but also with the growth of sex workers’ rights movements, discourses on sex work are now being able to influence how we think about sexuality. In our issues on Sex Work and Sexuality this month, we hope to be able to traverse some of these convergences.
Is business work? Can business that involves providing sexual services be understood as work? If work is any mental or physical activity performed for a result, then for the individual performing the activity sex work is work. If work is any activity performed as a means of survival, then sex work is work.
सम्पादकीय नोट : इस लेख का पहला भाग अप्रैल के पहले संस्करण में प्रकाशित हुआ था सेक्स वर्कर के अधिकारों…
I’m convinced we’re having the wrong conversation around digital porn. If we really want to have a meaningful conversation around porn, it’s time we stopped talking about its imagined harms. It’s time we started talking about actual harms. It’s time we started talking about the fault lines of consent.
Imtiaz Ali’s 5-minute film begins as any trite gangster flick but rapidly flips things around both in narrative and in audience perception.
Special Court No. 54 is a hall filled with whizzing ceiling fans. When the magistrate enters or exits, people rise to bow. Lawyers in black coats and white pants or saree/suit, sit at a long desk in plastic chairs a level below the magistrate with a clutch of researchers like myself, and anti-trafficking missionaries who “rescue fallen women”.
Note: Five sex workers – four women and one man – along with the filmmaker/narrator embark on a journey of storytelling. Shohini Ghosh’s Tales of the Night Fairies explores the power of collective organising and resistance while reflecting upon contemporary debates around sex work. The labyrinthine city of Kolkata (Calcutta) forms the backdrop for personal and musical journeys.
Sex work remains a highly contested issue. In most places in the world, societies and laws impose horrendous stigma and abuses on sex workers. But even within human rights movements there are disputes about whether sex work should be seen as labour or as exploitation…
Sex workers also are renowned for being educators – teaching people about safer sex practices and letting them explore their sexual expression in a safe and supportive environment. Seeing a sex worker can assist in one’s rehabilitation, allowing people to rediscover their sexual functioning after an accident and also learn to adapt to new sexual positioning with their new limited mobility.
If there are hordes of reasons for having sex, and all kinds of activities that count as work, why is it that the act of performing sexual services cannot be accepted as legitimate work?
Liz Hilton illustrates the puzzle in a booklet published by Empower Foundation, Thailand.