Friday, February 27, 2009

Hidden worlds | Male sex workers in India


They have the same customers. Their life histories and experiences are similar. They have the same problems. The stories they have to tell are similar: stories of missed opportunities, of poverty, hopelessness and exploitation. But one thing is different: female sex workers in India are visible, male not. Most are Kothis – men who feel themselves to be women and to be attracted to men - or gays and bisexuals, who pursue sex work. Mostly they are driven by lack of money. Many have no job at all, or an underpaid one.

Men who pursue sex work in India are doubly criminalised. On the one hand, same sex practices are prohibited by article 377 of the Indian penal code. On the other hand, sex work is illegal. Male sex workers operate thus outside the law, which leaves them unprotected and defenceless. They are often victims of violence - and rape.

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