Critique of the Study Undertaken by the Government-Appointed Committee on the Issue of Sex Workers

Date of Release: 24 Dec 2016

A 16-member committee was set up in May 2015 by the Government of Karnataka and chaired by a Member of the Legislative Council, Dr. Jayamala Ramachandra to study the ‘conditions’ of sex workers in the state. This document discusses the nature of violations in terms of the purported goals and objectives of the study, the research methodology, sampling method, survey tool, research ethics and violation of various national and international guidelines related to issues raised in the survey.

Report (PDF)
Memorandum Submitted to Dr Jayamala with Acknowledgement (PDF)
Sample Memorandum SW Study (PDF)

As Human Beings and as Workers: Sex Worker Unionization in KA, India

Date of Publication: 2015

‘Sex work is work’ has been a central claim in sex workers’ activism since at least the 1970s. But what are the implications for such a claim in the context of labor organizing? What promise does the labor movement hold for sex workers facing state violence; oppression on the basis of class, gender, sexuality, and caste; and criminalization? How can sex workers’ assertions of ‘worker’ identity invigorate the labor movement? As a key site of sex worker activism in the Global South, India offers a unique opportunity for an examination of sex workers’ collective struggles. This article uses the experience of the Karnataka Sex Workers Union (KSWU) to reflect on the promise and limits of labor perspectives for sex workers.

Gowri Vijayakumar, University of California-Berkeley, USA
Shubha Chacko, Aneka, India
Subadra Panchanadeswaran, Adelphi University School of Social Work, USA
Article (PDF) Global Labour Journal, Vol 6, No. 1 (2015)

Sex Workers Join the Indian Labor Movement

Date of Publication: Jun 08, 2015, New Labor Forum, CUNY

Sex worker activists have long argued that sex work is work like any other work. But what are the prospects for sex worker collective action inspired by the labor movement? The labor of sex falls outside the purview of the traditional trade union: sex workers are partly criminalized, often with no fixed “employer” with whom to negotiate, and operate through a range of often contingent work arrangements, from gift-based relationships with a few long-term partners to highly organized brothel work.

Gowri Vijayakumar
Link to article

Report of the Meeting on Trade Union Protections for Sex Workers

Date of Release: 2009, World Social Forum

The meeting was organised by the Karnataka Sex Workers Union, with the assistance of its federation, the New Trade Union Initiative, and the International Commission for Labor Rights. The meeting brought together sex workers' unions, and national unions committed to sex worker organizing, from around the world in order to discuss potential strategies for international solidarity and collaboration.

Report of the meeting, Jan 30 - Feb 1, 2009, Belem, Brazil (PDF)

Policing Morality in Channapatna: A PUCL-K Fact Finding Report

Date of Publication: 2007

The series of disturbing events in Channapatna commenced with the arrest on 2 June 2007 of four women under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 and the consequent media exposure and trial of these women. When a public protest was held to condemn the police complicity in converting what should have been a routine judicial process into a sensational trial by media, the protest was wilfully disrupted with the protesters being beaten up in the very presence of the police by anti–social elements. These events constituted a disturbing pattern of state moralism and authoritarianism wherein all democratic means of expressing a political opinion were sought to be stifled. Being deeply concerned about this flagrant violation of the basic rights guaranteed in our Constitution to all citizens, the People’s Union For Civil Liberties-Karnataka (PUCL-K) constituted a fact-finding team which comprised representatives from human rights groups, lawyers groups, Dalit groups, unorganized workers as well as health groups to enquire into the above mentioned incidents.

Report (PDF)

Human Rights Violations against the Transgender Community: A PUCL Report

Date of Publication: Jan 2004

A Study of Kothi and Hijra Sex Workers in Bangalore conducted in September 2003.

Extended Summary