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Trafficking in Women and Prostitution Dissected

I am coming back to my journal after a long hiatus of over two months during which I was busy in the field and rarely approached my computer. One of the most shocking statistics is that South Asia is both the biggest source and destination of women and girls trafficking in the world. Mainly for prostitution. This has made me think about this problem and also do a bit of reading to try and find out why trafficking and prostitution are so widespread throughout the world.
There is one main pull factor and one main push factor responsible for trafficking of women and girls and both are related to the kind of anti-people development that is taking place in India and in the world as a whole.The pull factor is the need for women sex workers in urban areas where there are innumerable men of all classes living without their families in pursuit of employment of one kind or another. The push factor is the extreme poverty in rural areas where there are few employment opportunities. Both these situations have arisen because of centralised modern development which concentrates investment and development in urban areas to the neglect of rural areas. Even in the developed nations there is tremendous internal migration as people have to move around in search of employment. There is also the question of why some women have to do sex work. Well this is something embedded in the history of patriarchy. The feminist historian Gerda Lerner in her classic "Creation of Patriarchy" has shown from her readings of archaeological and textual research of the pre-historic times that women were subordinated even before the creation of private property. When a tribe won a battle against another it found that it was easier to abduct and imprison the women than the men. The level of technology of weaponry at the time was such that it was very difficult to keep men imprisoned for a very long period of time. With women, however, things were easier as they could be made pregnant within a matter of weeks and thereafter once they bore children then they would naturally stay on. This is what led to the subordination of women even before the emergence of private property. The family system came later with the development of private property when it became necessary to identify male progeny to hand down inheritance to private property. This further strengthened the patriarchal system. Then with the beginning of urban civilisation the phenomenon of men having to live without families in cities emerged and so the need for some women to do sex work in cities so that the overall family system remained intact and was not threatened by men without families wanting to satisfy their sexual urges. Over thousands of years as the economic and social systems have become more and more centralised the demand for sex workers has gone on increasing and so has the poverty in rural areas.
Thus, the problem is a complex one that cannot be solved just by empowering women alone. Feminists have questioned the hypocritical sanctity given to family as an institution which reinforces patriarchal oppression of women and development radicals have questioned the centralised development system which oppresses the vast majority and also devastates nature. So there has to be a change in the social, economic and political systems that create a huge demand for sex work in urban areas on the one hand and also increase poverty in rural areas on the other.

Comments

tocssfoundation's picture

Sex work

Dear Kansari,
Welcome back.
Hmm, you've just said it all.
How was the field work?
Hope you don't mind sharing some tips on the steps we can take to stop this type of work.
Our women need us now ...
Regards

Shalom.

gunu_k's picture

Difficult Problem

Dear Shalom,
this is a very difficult problem. the most I can do is to try and ensure better livelihood opportunities in the areas in which i work. in india the local government institutions have fifty percent reservations in elected posts for women. this has given the women a greater say in the management of community affairs and so the level of sensitivity to trafficking of women has increased. But overall the situation is very bad and I am afraid that I can do very little to tackle it on my own.

Subhadra Khaperde
India

Eliana's picture

Dear Kansari, thank you for

Dear Kansari,
thank you for sharing your experience, ideas and challenges. I agree with you about the pull and push factor and I ask myself what can be done to stop this vicious cycle. In Italy we face this issue as well: human trafficking of women mostly from Nigeria being forced into prostitution and slavery. But there are also women from Romania, Albania and Ucraine being victims of these issues. It is hard to find solutions to this problem and it is even harder to find a way to help these women out of their situation.
I would appreciate getting to know more about your work and your approach.
Thank you for your experience
Peace to you
Eliana

Eliana

gunu_k's picture

Little to Offer

Dear Eliana,
I read an article about the serious problem of women's trafficking in India and became very depressed and so I wrote in my journal. I am not doing any work myself to try and directly tackle this serious problem so I have little to offer by way of practical solutions. My work is in the field of ensuring reproductive health and rights for poor women in western Madhya Pradesh. This task too is a very difficult one.

Subhadra Khaperde
India

Eliana's picture

Dear Subhadra, Thank you for

Dear Subhadra,
Thank you for your reply. I appreciate your answer and the way you wrote about the issue that make you feel depressed. It is a first step to raise awareness. So thank you for posting the comment on your journal to make us all aware of the situation in India, your country.
The work you are doing is very precious and can help many women. This is great thing you are doing and I hope you will keep on doing it.
I wish you all the best for your work and for everything in your life
Peace to you
Eliana

Eliana

Eliana's picture

Dear Subhadra, I just found a

Dear Subhadra,
I just found a post on www.humnews.com. It talks about the an organization founded by Tanvi Girotra, an Indian woman dealing and addressing the issue of women forced into prostitution as young girls. She offers them other opportunities in order to avoid that sad destiny for them.
If you find some time have a look at it. I think it is interesting article.

The full title is: "Tanvi Girotra. Empowering girls before poverty drives them to the streets of India"
It was published on the site on Tuesday, 28th September 2010.

Hope it can be of some help for you and your work too.
Peace to you
Eliana

Eliana

Y's picture

Hello, Gunu You may want to

Hello, Gunu
You may want to introduce yourself to Urmila Chanam, a World Pulse sister working for the rights of sex workers in India.http://worldpulse.com/user/3715

Yvette

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