'As Human Beings and As Workers': Sex Worker Unionization in Karnataka, India
'Sex work is work' has been a central claim in sex workers' activism since at least the 1970s. But what are the implications for such a claim in the context of labor organizing? What promise does the labor movement hold for sex workers facing state violence; oppression on the basis of class, gender, sexuality, and caste; and criminalization? How can sex workers' assertions of 'worker' identity invigorate the labor movement? As a key site of sex worker activism in the Global South, India offers a unique opportunity for an examination of sex workers' collective struggles. This article uses the experience of the Karnataka Sex Workers Union (KSWU) to reflect on the promise and limits of labor perspectives for sex workers.
Global Labour Journal's authors grant the journal permission to publish, but they retain copyright of their manuscripts. The Global Labour Journal applies a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International License.
Under the terms of this licensing framework anyone is free to share, copy, distribute and transmit the work, under the following conditions:
- Attribution: You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
- Noncommercial Use: You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
- No Derivative Works: You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.
For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work.
Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder, the author of the piece. The author's moral rights are retained in this license.