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Street Corner Secrets: Sex, Work, and Migration in the City of Mumbai

Street Corner Secrets: Sex, Work, and Migration in the City of Mumbai challenges widespread notions of sex work in India by examining solicitation in three spaces within the city of Mumbai that are seldom placed within the same analytic frame: brothels, streets, and public day-wage labor markets (nakas), where sexual commerce may be solicited discretely alongside other income-generating activities. Focusing on women who migrated to Mumbai from rural, economically underdeveloped areas within India, author Svati P. Shah argues that selling sexual services is one of a number of ways women working as laborers may earn a living, demonstrating that sex work, like day labor, is a part of India’s vast informal economy. Here, various means of earning—legitimized or stigmatized, legal or illegal—overlap or exist in close proximity to one another, shaping a narrow field of livelihood options that women navigate daily. In the course of this rich ethnography, Shah discusses policing practices, migrants’ access to housing and water, the idea of public space, critiques of states and citizenship, and the discursive location of violence within debates on sexual commerce. Throughout, the book analyzes the epistemology of prostitution, and the silences and secrets that constitute the discourse of sexual commerce on Mumbai’s streets.” You can read the introduction here.

 

Author Svati P. Shah is the Assistant Professor in the Department of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Related posts:

  1. Is Trafficking in Human Beings Demand Driven? A Multi-Country Pilot Study by Bridget Anderson & Julia O’Connell Davidson, International Organization for Migration (2003)
  2. Trafficked Victims or Labor Migrants? The Indentured Mobility of Filipina Hostess Workers in Japan – Kimberly Kay Hoang reviews Rhacel Parrenas’ new book: Illicit Flirtations: Labor, Migration, and Sex Trafficking in Tokyo
  3. Sexual Labors: Interdisciplinary Perspectives Toward Sex as Work by Rhacel Parrenas with Eileen Boris and Stephanie Gilmore
  4. From the International to the Local in Feminist Legal Responses to Rape, Prostitution/Sex Work, and Sex Trafficking: Four Studies in Contemporary Governance Feminism
  5. The Transformation of Sexual Commerce and Urban Space in San Francisco by Elizabeth Bernstein

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