Mumbai: India’s  commercial sex workers, though constituting an integral part of its informal sector economy, are rendered voiceless under patriarchal power structures. 

The condition of sex-workers  is extremely poor, and the industry faces several structural barriers. The existing state rehabilitation projects often violate their bodily autonomy and act as moral discipliners, leaving them vulnerable to violence said Dr Naresh Purohit, Advisor, Association of Studies for Human Rights.

Dr Purohit also Advisor for National Mental Health Programme told vibrant news here  that sex work is considered one of the oldest professions in the world. In India, selling sex in private is legal, while all other activities related to sex work, such as pimping, brothel-keeping, are considered to be illegal.

He averred that though India has had periods of economic growth, modernisation, scientific and technological advancements, and macro-level peace initiatives since independence, its institutional structures have not comprehensively addressed micro-level development and the concerns of its most disadvantaged segments. 

He said that according to WHO
sex workers are among those most vulnerable to HIV infection.
Notwithstanding a lack of labour rights and healthcare coverage, their life histories remain invisible from the realm of law or policy. Sex workers remain largely excluded from mainstream society, but there is an urgent need to pay attention to such voices.

Citing his recent scientific report in the American Journal of Psychology, noted mental heath expert- Dr Purohit   said that  about a fifth of female sex workers in India are attacked four times a month on an average, and those with more clients and income are more likely the victims of sexual violence.

"Violence inflicted on sex workers increases their risk of contracting STIs, including AIDS. While sexual violence has a more obvious connection to STIs, physical and emotional violence also play a major role in increasing their vulnerability."he added.

He said that  direct violence  involves incidents of rape and forced sex, the indirect impact of violence manifests itself in the inability of sex workers to negotiate safer sex with clients, partners and other possible sexual partners.

He revealed that  most prevalent form of violence against sex workers is physical abuse followed by emotional and sexual violence.