CEDAW Shadow Report on the Status of Sex Workers in India


NSWP members SANGRAM and VAMP, along with CASAM and women’s rights organisation MASUM submitted this shadow report on the status of sex workers in India to the 58th CEDAW Committee in July 2014. The report highlights the violence and rights violations experienced by sex workers and includes testimonies from sex workers across India.

Their shadow report resulted in a unique recognition of the collateral damage of raid and rescue approaches to addressing trafficking in the sex industry, with CEDAW noting concern ‘at the persecution of women in prostitution as a result of measures taken to address trafficking, such as raid and rescue operations.’

CASAM, SANGRAM and VAMP summarised their experiences engaging with CEDAW in a status update. In the status update, they note that ‘The advocacy process to gain recognition for the violence faced by sex workers has been extremely challenging’ and that ‘the [CEDAW] Committee fails to translate its own intent on posing questions in October 2013 to the Government to "guarantee the rights of women in prostitution"; into a tangible recommendation for the State part.’ They conclude that because of these and other omissions, the CEDAW concluding observations  ‘...are not in keeping with the expectations of large groups of marginalised women.’

Contents include:

  • Background
  • Shift in global understanding of sex workers' rights
  • Lack of access to justice for sex workers
  • Status of sex workers in India
    • Violence
    • Criminalisation, stigma, social exclusion, and climate of impunity
    • Conflation of trafficking and migration, leading to denial of labour rights
    • Social security and support
    • Denial of safe environment and labour protection
  • State response and concerns
  • Recommendations.

Their report and status update are useful for sex workers who are interested in submitting their own report to CEDAW once their own country is reviewed.  It is also useful for those interested in learning more about the human rights situation of female sex workers in India, as well as challenges to expect when engaging with the CEDAW committee.

You can download the 13-page shadow report and 7-page status update above. These resources are available in English.