Also mothers, daughters and lovers: Social relations and sex work in India – Mirna Guha

“I might do sex work, but I am also a mother, daughter and a lover”: A study of sex work, social relations, and violence in the lives of female sex workers’ in Eastern India

Through a three-step process, Mirna Guha will share her PhD research on sex work, social relations and violence in Eastern India. She will:

  1. discuss how research, development policy and development interventions on sex work in India has connected sex work to disease (HIV/AIDS discourse) and violence (Human Trafficking discourse) in ways that reduce female sex workers to either ‘passive victims’ or ‘empowered agents’ without meaningfully engaging with the complexity of their lives.
  2. share her research findings which show how female sex workers’ lives, and their experiences and negotiations with violence, are embedded within participation in social relationships as South Asian women.
  3. argue that in our work with women in sex work, in order to meaningfully address the challenges in their lives – either through NGOs or academia, we need to see them as women with intersectional identities shaped by class, gender, ethnicity, and social relationships, not as sex workers, alone. 

Mirna Guha is a social scientist, with a keen interest in research on issues surrounding gender equality and social justice. Currently, she is a PhD student at the School of International Development at the University of East Anglia. One of the most significant programmes she has worked on was an organisational evaluation of a micro-finance programme with a group of ‘survivors of trafficking’ in villages in the southern district of West Bengal: listening to, and understanding the multi-dimensionality and dynamic nature of their experiences made her want to learn more, and that desire eventually shaped the birth of her PhD research project.


Download the pdf of the presentation here.

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