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Abstract

Some feminists argue that sex work reduces the female body to an object of sexual pleasure to be exploited in the marketplace by any male – an argument consistent with patriarchal notions of protection, reverence and control, the construction of women as a devi [goddess], the dasi [slave] or the veshya [sex worker]. This article addresses our work with collectivising rural women not in sex work (Vidrohi Mahila Manch [Platform for Rebellious Women] (VMM) Sangli) and rural women in sex work (Veshya Anyay Mukti Parishad (VAMP)) from South Maharashtra and North Karnataka, India. It examines the apparent control adult women in sex work have over their own bodies and lives. Although it is true that unless acting collectively, they are less successful in confronting organised criminal gangs and the brutal side of law enforcers, most of them boldly confront sexual relations with individual male clients and men from their own community.