Commercial Sex as a mechanism to enhance personal liberties of women

dev 5There is always an association of the sex trade and human trafficking, rape and coercion. [1]Even though the sex industry does not conform to social norms; it can benefit the workers . It is their perspectives that is often ignored and should be acknowledged before trying to prematurely tackling the topic.

In a Ugandan study, there are 3 recognised types of women who in the commercial sex industry.

1)      women who are economically dependent on prostitution for their livelihood

2)      waitresses in  bars who work for an institution of some form where they have a middle man mediating their activity

3)      successful entrepreneurs who own bars and businesses and also earn from commercial sex

The 3rd group who have financial independence from men are more secure financially and in terms of safe sex as they can negotiate their sexual relationships. In conclusion there is an inverse relationship between economic stability and vulnerability towards the women’s wellbeing and that most women who become commercial sex workers came from “a disadvantaged background…[with]…restricted access to economic resources.”  [2]

A cooperative bank in India by the Population Services International has now been set up to allow women to save small amounts of money which elevates their financial difficulties which prevents them taking unsafe risks.[3]  From the Ugandan study it is possible to see sex work for a group of women elevates them from financial hardship independently. In combination micro-banking and prostitution has given some women an alternative to poverty.

There is a paradox within the feminist movement that either criticises the sex limitations of the female sex and the other implied that there was a higher cost for woman being too sexually active.[4] Sex workers are either supported or condemned by various fragments of feminist thought. It is ignored that sex work for many females who are marginalised either by society, for an individual reason or economically creates utility for the workers. It allows them to break off from the social constructs that limit their freedoms.

In India this is seen to be the case for a select number of sex workers. Many see it as a liberation from what would have otherwise been a mundane, monotone life dictated by the whims and demands of their potential husbands. It is a means of empowering oneself through creating a sense of independence. [5]It allows women to take a non-conservative path that gives them the same rights as men in their society, it shows the sex trade as a mechanism of closing that gender gap within certain societies.


[2]     Pp179, Women who sell sex in a Ugandan Trading Union, Life Histories, Survival Strategies and Risk, M. Gysels, R.Pool,B Nnalusiba, Social Science and Medicine vol 43, pp179-192

[4] Pp 702, What’s Wrong with Prostitution? Evaluating Sex Work,  Christine Overall, Signs , Vol. 17, No. 4 (Summer, 1992), pp. 705-724

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