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“I Am Almost a Breadwinner for My Family”: Exploring the Manifestation of Agency in Sex Workers’ Personal and Professional Contexts

“I Am Almost a Breadwinner for My Family”: Exploring the Manifestation of Agency in Sex Workers’... While societal and structural factors often constrain women’s agency in patriarchal settings, women nevertheless find creative ways to manifest and develop agency. Female sex workers (FSWs), in particular, are regularly assumed to have little or no agency, but an important body of literature suggests otherwise. To add to this knowledge, this study sought to answer the question: How do FSWs in Mumbai, India, exert agency in personal and professional contexts? In-depth interviews were conducted with 12 FSWs in the Kamathipura red-light area. Four themes emerged: (a) sex work as a rational and empowering choice, (b) resources and assets, (c) sex work as a means of achievement, and (d) managing violence, retribution, and fear. These themes reveal expressions of agency that illustrate how sex workers are intentional, rational, goal-oriented, and resilient. The findings of this study can contribute to the removal of stigma surrounding sex work and inform service providers working with this population in their efforts to treat sex workers with dignity and respect. Further research is needed in this area, especially which centers on the voices of the agentic sex workers themselves. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Affilia SAGE

“I Am Almost a Breadwinner for My Family”: Exploring the Manifestation of Agency in Sex Workers’ Personal and Professional Contexts

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Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© The Author(s) 2021
ISSN
0886-1099
eISSN
1552-3020
DOI
10.1177/08861099211022717
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

While societal and structural factors often constrain women’s agency in patriarchal settings, women nevertheless find creative ways to manifest and develop agency. Female sex workers (FSWs), in particular, are regularly assumed to have little or no agency, but an important body of literature suggests otherwise. To add to this knowledge, this study sought to answer the question: How do FSWs in Mumbai, India, exert agency in personal and professional contexts? In-depth interviews were conducted with 12 FSWs in the Kamathipura red-light area. Four themes emerged: (a) sex work as a rational and empowering choice, (b) resources and assets, (c) sex work as a means of achievement, and (d) managing violence, retribution, and fear. These themes reveal expressions of agency that illustrate how sex workers are intentional, rational, goal-oriented, and resilient. The findings of this study can contribute to the removal of stigma surrounding sex work and inform service providers working with this population in their efforts to treat sex workers with dignity and respect. Further research is needed in this area, especially which centers on the voices of the agentic sex workers themselves.

Journal

AffiliaSAGE

Published: Jan 1, 2021

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