State Ennui vis-a-vis Sex Workers
Jaya Tyagi
--------------- by Joyce Outshoorn Cambridge University Press, 2006, 329 pp., price not stated
January 2006, volume 30, No 1

The way to assess the patriarchal leanings of a state is to go through its policies towards the so called ‘oldest profession in the world’— prostitution. Ideally, state policy should reflect sensitivity to the socio-economic and historical issues related to prostitution, policies should differentiate between prostitution as a socio-cultural institution that treats women as marketable commodities, encourages women and child trafficking, and distinguish it from the individual choices of sex workers who as professionals, deprived of expensive higher education and elitist job opportunities, have no other way of competing in a hierarchical society than ‘peddling’ the one resource that modern civilization seems to be highlighting and obsessing over— their bodies. Ironically, modernization has not brought in solutions, societal values encouraging the use of women’s body as a potential site for exploitation, marketing and pleasure are being constantly pitted against women’s struggles for empowerment and ability to choose what they want to do with their bodies.

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