ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Review of Women's StudiesSubscribe to Review of Women's Studies

Humanitarian Trafficking

Why would women "rescued" from the sex trade riot against their rescuers? Sex workers in Hyderabad often experience rescue as a form of humanitarian violence befitting the United Nation's definition of trafficking. Anti-trafficking laws in India reinforce kinship structures that precipitate the need to participate in sex work. Moreover, without restructuring the wider political economy of female labour, rehabilitation efforts fail to address sex workers' economic needs. Those rescued almost inevitably choose to return to sex work. Anti-trafficking programmes do violence to sex workers while failing to offer them adequate alternatives.

Criminalising the Trafficked

People-smuggling and trafficking in humans are generally viewed as two distinct offences. In general, smuggling involves delivering persons into the countries they wish to enter illegally and then leaving them to their own devices. Trafficking for sex and/or labour is defined as coercive in international discourses. In reality, the difference is largely semantic. Women smuggled into another country often fall prey to traffickers, and efforts to punish those who perpetrate the evil end up victimising the victims. Trafficking is not only an abuse of human rights, it is also a process that contributes to statelessness; a status that denies citizenship rights to the victims of trafficking and casts them in a permanent state of non-belonging, devoid of rights.

Unspoken Voices of Trafficked Women and Children in Manipur

An examination of the phenomenon of trafficking of women and children from Manipur to different parts of India and overseas delves into the reasons for trafficking and addresses the voices of the victims and the types of exploitation. A few crucial aspects that emerge from the study are the voluntary participation of the victims, who trust false promises, in the trafficking rackets; parents and relatives being loath to admit that their children and female relatives have been trafficked because of social stigma and shame; and, that trafficking is about the neglect of girls and women from marginalised tribes and from a region considered important only because of its strategic location.

'Who Would Like to Live in This Cage?'

The functioning of shelter homes under Ujjawala, a comprehensive scheme for prevention of trafficking and rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of victims of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation, directs one to examine the issues surrounding "rescue" and assumptions about what happens to the rescued girls and women. The discourse on rescue and rehabilitation often portrays girls and women as "liberated" from commercial sexual exploitation. An interrogation of the politics of rescue using research was conducted in a shelter home under the Ujjawala scheme.

'Next Time I Will Go to Dubai'

Cross-border trafficking between India and Bangladesh is an organised economic activity driven by lack of livelihood options, limited natural resources, a number of social causes, and the regular flow of money it ensures for the victims' families. This study is based on interviews with Bangladeshi women "rescued" by the Indian police from brothels and awaiting repatriation. Many of the repatriated women returned to India within a short time; they were either re-trafficked or returned voluntarily, as their material circumstances and options had not changed. In order to address the vicious cycle of trafficking and re-trafficking, it is essential to give up a protectionist view of these women in favour of one that takes into account the choices they make, and focus on prevention.

Globalisations, Mobility and Agency

Feminist researchers integrate macrostructural processes with everyday micropolitics by locating women's lives at the centre of the research process. Data from this research demonstrate that changing attitudes towards women's education, "good" jobs, and productive work lives help women establish a social position from which they use their agency to successfully negotiate when and whom they will marry, continue to work after marriage, voice opinions against dowry, and navigate their position within and outside the household. Without investigating how gender norms have changed over time and what working in globalised workplaces means to women, it would be easy to miss the change in women's lives and repeat the familiar refrain of exploitation of women in the global South.

Studying Women and the Women's Movement in India

This paper is an autobiographical account that draws on the author's research over close to six decades on India as a feminist anthropologist interested in agrarian south India. The feminist lens to her includes looking at all of the issues that concern social scientists, workers in the humanities and in the legal and health professions, as well as political activists, making use of methods already developed (by women as well as men) but now including a crucial women's approach. In addition, as opposed to the male approach which has been dominant until fairly recently (despite the pressure early on from B R Ambedkar), a wide range of feminist approaches has come to include, since independence, the effects of caste and class on women's lives. The paper attempts to provide an account of the author's work especially in Kerala and Tamil Nadu and her current engagements with movements for sustainable agriculture.

Feminist Critical Medical Anthropology Methodologies

The author is a critical feminist medical anthropologist who has been engaged in ethnographic research on women's health issues in India for the past 25 years. Drawing from her own research experiences, this paper explores the methodologies entailed in research as a feminist critical medical anthropologist: by unpacking core methodological assumptions behind each component of her disciplinary position, introducing methodologies at each level--sociocultural anthropology, medical anthropology, critical medical anthropology, and finally feminist critical medical anthropology. It also examines how she has operationalised the fusion of these methodological approaches in her own research projects. The ways in which the findings from this research have contributed to our understanding of gender and can be useful for improving healthcare for women are also discussed.

Impractical Topics, Practical Fields

The histories of the women's movement's protests transformed the discursive and juridical method of constituting rape as an object of reform and research. A traversal of different kinds of registers--protests and law reform, pedagogy and research, testimony and lawyering--reflects on how publicity, sexual violence and public secrecy constitute a field. We must pay attention to the question of method not just in relation to feminist, sociological or anthropological research, but also to the question of methods in lawyering and law reform.

Real Life Methods

This paper argues that an emancipatory impulse is critical and central to feminist method--one which effectively counters a widespread fetishisation of social science research where little attention is paid to the relationships of production of research findings and conclusions. Just as the women's movement and its political critique has affected discourses that are not specifically about gender or sexual distinctions, the emancipatory impulse of feminist methods can also be deployed in enquiries that are not focused entirely on gendered accounts of social phenomena. The aim of this study is not to essentialise certain methods as "feminist" but rather to suggest that methods used by a researcher who is a feminist, in enquiries into phenomenon that throw up questions of hierarchies other than gender, would not remain uninfluenced by her feminist politics. This claim is bolstered by the author's experiences as a feminist researcher studying the segregation of Muslims in Delhi.

Pages

Back to Top