The sex industry exists in a legislative gray area in India. Women can legally engage in voluntary sexual activity for material benefit, however, according to the ‘Immoral Traffic Prevention Act’ of 1956, prostitution within 200 meters of a public place, public solicitation, and organised prostitution (brothels, pimping, etc.) are illegal. Furthermore, male and transgender sex workers are not recognised by any law in India, and Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalises homosexual acts. Regardless of the industry’s legal status, the demand for sexual services is persistent and hence there is a prominence of sex work in response to this constant demand.
To combat the struggles of such an industry, Aastha Parivaar works with all typologies of sex workers and their children, including:
- Bar Girls: Women who are paid for sex and operate from venues and bars, soliciting clients either at their work or any suitable place.
- Floating Sex Workers: Women who are paid for sex and cruise from one place to another, soliciting clients at any suitable place (lodges and/or pickup points). These women are also known as ‘street-based’ sex workers.
- Brothel-based Sex Workers: Women who are paid for sex, residing and soliciting clients from a fixed place (brothels).
- Lodge-based Sex Workers: Women who are picked up from specific points to provide sexual services at nearby lodges. This may not be an exclusive category since many floating sex workers and bar girls use lodges near their work areas (street corners/bars) to provide sexual services.
- Home-based Sex Workers: Women who provide paid sexual services at lodges or locations chosen by clients. They live with their families, from whom their professional identity is often kept hidden, operating as part of a network managed by a pimp.
- Male Sex Workers: Men who provide paid sexual services to men and/or women and cruise from one place to another, soliciting clients at any suitable public place. Male sex workers also operate out of a network of agents or through various internet sites.
- Transgender/Eunuchs/Hijra Sex Workers: Individuals who provide paid sexual services where their psychological gender identity differs from their biological sex. These workers can include both castrated and non-castrated males, who cruise and solicit clients at suitable places such as street corners, highways, pick up points and brothels.