The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Exploring the Entry and Exit Patterns of Women From Commercial Sexual Exploitation in India

Thursday, January 16, 2014: 3:30 PM
HBG Convention Center, Room 001B River Level (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
Bincy Wilson, MSW, Ph.D. Candidate, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Buffalo, NY
Thomas H. Nochajski, PhD, Research Associate Professor, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Buffalo, NY
Barbara Rittner, PhD, Associate Dean for Advancement; Associate Professor, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Buffalo, NY
Background and Purpose: Commercial sexual exploitation (CSE, i.e., prostitution and sex trafficking) of women and girls is a global phenomenon reflecting not only violence against women but also gross violation of human rights. According to the International Labor Organization 2012 report, the total number of individuals who are forcibly sexually exploited across the globe is estimated at 4.5 million, with 98% being women and 21% less than 18 years of age. India is one of the major source, transit and destination countries for this form of exploitation. Very little is known about the exit pattern of victims from CSE due to the transient nature of this population and the perennial stigma attached to being in the sex trade. This study explores the entry and exit patterns of victims of CSE in India.  The questions studied are: (i) what is the pattern of entry among women/girls into CSE, (ii) what are the patterns of exiting among women/girls from CSE, and (iii) how do the victims of CSE respond to the services currently being offered to them. 

Methods: A survey design was used to gather data from 163 women who were currently in, exiting, or had already exited the sex trade and were receiving, or had received, services from 10 different agencies spread across 5 major cities in India. After the agencies granted permission to access clientele who were interested in the study, the researcher administered a survey questionnaire in two Indian languages, in an interview format, due to the low level of literacy in India. The questionnaire consisted of standardized measures, generally used with traumatized populations, in Likert scale format along with close ended, open ended and multiple-choice questions. For the purpose of analysis, frequency distributions, factor analysis, cluster analysis, and analysis of variance were conducted.

Results: The mean age of entry of victims into CSE was 21 years with 42% being between 10 to 18 years at the time of induction. On average, the victims identified between 3 and 4 reasons as causing their entry into the sex trade, with economic conditions, peer pressure, neglect by family, poverty, and being cheated and sold, cited most often. Factor analysis revealed six dimensions to the exit process as determined by stages of change. These dimensions showed differential relationships to social support, substance use, mental health problems, impact of adverse childhood experiences, and status in the sex trade. Additionally, a significant association was found between level of service satisfaction among the victims and types of services they received from different agencies.

Conclusions and Implications: The knowledge gained from this study would assist in developing a preliminary exit model which could be tested in other cultures, and in developing or modifying the services currently offered to better meet the needs of the victims of CSE during their specific stage in the exit process, empowering them to regain their life and reduce the possibility of being re-trafficked back into the sex trade.