Gender and Sexuality in India

Selling Sex in Chennai

By Salla Sariola

© 2010 – Routledge

166 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415533560
pub: 2012-02-21
US Dollars$54.95
Hardback: 9780415549158
pub: 2009-12-07
US Dollars$150.00

About the Book

India has one of the highest numbers of HIV carriers in the world. HIV has remained associated with sex work, and large sums of money provided to fund public health interventions have come from global institutions such as UNAIDS, the World Bank and USAID. In the midst of these processes, however, sex workers and their everyday lives have been hidden behind the rhetorics of control and prevention.

This book offers a detailed analysis of the experiences of sex workers in Chennai. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, it draws out themes of agency; notions of gender and sexuality; and the HIV prevention industry. While the women’s experiences are closely knit into the medical discourse regarding sex workers, sex work emerges as a complicated knot of poverty, desire, women’s oppression, love, co-option, and motherhood. The author examines how the sex workers actively negotiate the risks of their industry and suggests alternative discourses on women’s sexuality, sexual behaviour and desire, arguing that unless the power imbalances affecting women are addressed, such policies and activities will have little impact. She brings attention to the problems of current policies, discourses and attitudes regarding HIV, sexuality and sex work, and shows how new policies could help to reduce vulnerabilities not only for sex workers, but perhaps for all women in India.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Contextualizing Sex Work in Chennai 3. Women in Sex Work 4. What happened to 2.2 Million People? 5. Negotiating the Problems of Selling Sex 6. Alternative Discourses of Sex and Sexuality 7. Conclusion

About the Author

Salla Sariola is a research associate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Durham. Currently researching international medical research collaboration, bioethics and governance of clinical trials in Sri Lanka, her research interests include anthropology of science and technology, global health, and gender and sexuality.

About the Series

Routledge/Edinburgh South Asian Studies Series

This series is published in association with the Centre for South Asian Studies, Edinburgh University - one of the leading centres for South Asian Studies in the UK with a strong interdisciplinary focus. It presents research monographs and high-quality edited volumes as well as textbook on topics concerning the Indian subcontinent from the modern period to contemporary times. It aims to advance understanding of the key issues in the study of South Asia, and contributions include works by experts in the social sciences and the humanities. In accordance with the academic traditions of Edinburgh, we particularly welcome submissions which emphasise the social in South Asian history, politics, sociology and anthropology, based upon thick description of empirical reality, generalised to provide original and broadly applicable conclusions.

The series welcomes new submissions from young researchers as well as established scholars working on South Asia, from any disciplinary perspective.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General