Pan-India Survey of Sex Workers

Rohini Sahni and V Kalyan Shankar
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This summary, written under the aegis of the Center for Advocacy on Stigma and Marginalisation (CASAM), presents the preliminary results of the first pan-India survey on sex workers. These preliminary findings have been developed for an event in Mumbai on 30 April 2011. The authors appreciate the opportunity to discuss their research with an audience of critical stakeholders. A report which provides their final analysis and data relating to male, trans sex workers, sexuality, stigma and discrimination as well as the 0.5% of 15-17 year olds in this sample will be published later in the year. For the final report please contact

Over two years a sample of 3000 female and 1355 male and trans persons in sex work was drawn from fourteen states.

In the wake of HIV, there has been a renewed engagement with sex workers as subjects of research. However this research has been carried out to fulfil a range of purposes beyond those of interest to sex workers and findings have not always reflected the lives of sex workers, about which there are many assumptions. Studies of sex workers often reduce complex lives into simplistic binaries, most commonly: an understanding of female sex workers as freely engaging in, or forced into sex work. This is both inaccurate and insufficient. Much relevant information is ignored such as family and social-economic background, caste and religious segregations, sexual identities, marital status, not to mention work identities other than and in addition to sex work. This survey uses multiple variables to understand how their lives get constructed prior to and in sex work.

You can download this 14 page PDF resource above. This resource is in English.