Of Raids and Returns: Sex work movement, police oppression, and the politics of the ordinary in Sonagachi, India
Keywords:sex work, law, labour, raids, police violence, India
Drawing on ethnographic work with Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC), a grassroots sex worker organisation in Sonagachi, the iconic red-light district in Kolkata, India, this paper explores the politics of the detritus generated by raids as a form of state violence. While the current literature mainly focuses on its institutional ramifications, this article explores the significance of the raid in its immediate relation to the brothel as a home and a space to collectivise for labour rights. Drawing on atyachar (oppression), the Bengali word sex workers use to depict the violence of raids, I argue that they experience the raid not as a spectacle, but as an ordinary form of violence in contrast to their extraordinary experience of return to rebuild their lives. Return signals both a reclamation of the detritus as well as subversion of the state’s attempt to undermine DMSC’s labour movement.
How to Cite
The Anti-Trafficking Review has a policy of licensing under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). Under the CC-BY license, the public is free to share, adapt, and make commercial use of the work. To protect our work and that of our authors, however, users must always give proper attribution to the author(s) and the Anti-Trafficking Review (i.e. with a complete bibliographic citation and link to the Anti-Trafficking Review website and/or DOI).
The Anti-Trafficking Review promotes the sharing of information, and we therefore encourage the reproduction and onward dissemination of articles published with us.