India Witnessing Growth of ‘High-Price’ Commercial Sex Workers, Reuters Reports
A new group of "high-price" commercial sex workers is emerging in India and "servicing India's nouveau riche and the throng of foreign businessmen drawn to a booming economy," Reuters reports. Although the group largely constitutes educated women from middle-class families who consider sex work a "lucrative and even glamorous profession," many sex workers in India -- which has the world's third highest HIV/AIDS caseload -- are HIV-positive and are forced into the work by "crushing poverty," according to Reuters.
The growth of "high-end" sex work in the country highlights not only the affluence of India's upper classes but also the "changing role of women in a deeply conservative society," Reuters reports. Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research in New Delhi, said, "Only 2% to 3% of India's prostitutes enter the profession willingly. These are the high-class girls, and it is them exercising their democratic rights." Anuja Agrawal, a sociologist at the University of Delhi, said, "With the changes in the economy and increased consumerism, the Indian woman is under pressure to conform to a highly capitalistic image which requires a lot of money to upkeep," adding, "If Indian society were to really allow their women to be free, they won't be forced to conform to such a rigid behavior." Commercial sex work is illegal in India, but some groups estimate that there are two million sex workers in the country (Lee, Reuters, 9/14).