The spatial-cultural configuration of sex work in Goa India

Ajay Bailey, University of Groningen
Paulus P.P. Huigen, University of Groningen
Inge Hutter, University of Groningen

Goa a popular tourist destination in South Asia showcases only certain visible representations. The underbelly of tourism processes such as poverty, exploitation and marginalization is invisible. We study one such invisible layer and its actors, i.e. sex workers and their facilitators. The aim of this article is to describe the spatial-cultural configuration of sex work as constituted by the places where sex is negotiated and transacted and the role of facilitators. The cultural part involves the understanding of combined meanings generated from the place making process by sex workers, clients and facilitators. We base this paper on triangulated information from key informants, observations, reported sexual experiences of clients and media reports. For an emic view of the practice of sex work, walk through the places technique, a combination of ethnographic observation and ‘imaginary walk’, was very useful. Urban places in Goa where sex work is negotiated and conducted vary considerably. These places are contested, gendered and veiled. Sex work is not merely about sex workers and their clients; it is much broader and intermeshed with different people playing the role of facilitators. The local place specific meanings generated by the actors are important in spatially contextualising risk and risk behaviour.

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Presented in Session 86: High Risk Groups