Can Sex Work Make A Woman Economically Independent?

Globalisation influences several changes in the social, economic, and cultural life of people in India. Culture-bound syndrome, and consumerism—these twin factors drive changes in lifestyle and personal choice for people in almost every corner of the world. The sexual revolution is a vital change in globalised India because there is “a dramatic shift in traditional values related to sex and sexuality” [Ira Trivedi (2014), India in Love]. Especially in urban areas, “pre-marital sex is skyrocketing, and it is estimated about 75% in the 18-24 years age bracket. Sex is ultimately out of the closet and on to the streets.”

When I look at advertisements in daily newspaper, and at posters on public walls of people receiving a body massage with full enjoyment, and other images related to sexual enjoyment, almost throughout the city of Kolkata, it justifies the above. In these advertisements, women, at a tender age, appeal for sex with their body, with revealing dresses, and so forth, to provoke and attract a brand’s potential (male) clients. India’s “economic development has aided this sexual revolution with consumerism being an integral part. Industrial development, rural to urban migration, the nuclearisation of families, and the rising divorce rate, the proportion of single-member households is likely to increase steadily along the lines of the industrial west” [Ira Trivedi (2014), India in Love].

Yes, India is becoming an economic superpower. If we turn our eyes to the market size for condoms and contraceptive pills, “it was 1,458 crores in 2015 for condoms, which would be about 4,454 crores in 2020 and an estimation showed that 77% of single women use contraceptive pills, while it is 26% for married women.”

Porn, sex toys, other sex-related medicines, and the beauty care industry all have a large market. However, as Ira Trivedi says, “sex for sale, for both men and women is easily available including a new host of sex workers from Indian college girls to middle-aged housewives and reputable star hotels across Indian cities are being used as modern-age harems.” The sex industry is no longer limited for the women of lower socio-economic strata who are victims of poverty, gender discrimination, and so forth. Nowadays, women of varied age groups are willfully entering into this trade because it is an avenue of easy money making by which they could meet their needs and demands of changing lifestyle and life choices. Then what would be the status of women in Indian society? What would be the result of so-called feminist movements for their equity and justice? The changing culture of this society turns women into erotic capital, often in a way that women also trap themselves.

Prof. Amartya Sen (Nobel Laureate in Economics) opines that women’s education and meaningful employment would only accelerate women’s equity and justice in every society. Their economic self-dependence would break the cycle of gender discrimination. But does earning from sex work become meaningful employment? If things go on as they are, what will be the future of women? And who can help direct them away from this track? Are they entering a new-track of discrimination? Should we not rethink our stance?


More by :  Dr. Harasankar Adhikari

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