Immorality, Hurt or Choice: How Indian Feminists Engage with Prostitution

G Gangoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines key trends within Indian feminist analysis on prostitution, and is based on primary fieldwork around feminist organizations in India and on research conducted on prostitution in the states of Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal and Orissa. The article argues that there are at least three ways in which Indian feminists have addressed the issue of prostitution - as silence, as hurt and violence and as potential choice and liberation. I suggest that all these perspectives are limited in that they do not necessarily take in the wide range of experiences encountered by women in prostitution, and may well feed into mainstream patriarchal views on prostitution. The first trope looks at the ways in which 'mainstream' Indian feminists did not raise issues of sexuality, thereby relegating questions of prostitute rights to the margins. The second approach is based on radical feminist critiques of prostitution as violence and hurt, and legitimizes itself by drawing on the articulations of those sex workers and activists who draw on the experiences of hurt, anguish, violence and coercion that form a part of their lives. Finally, I look at prostitute rights organizations that seek to create an alternative to these analyses.
Translated title of the contributionImmorality, Hurt or Choice: How Indian Feminists Engage with Prostitution
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 19
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Feminist Journal of Politics
Volume9 (1)
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Routledge


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