Prostitution in Nepal has mainly been associated with “trafficking” to red light districts in India, or traditional forms like temple prostitution and the special prostitution caste badi. This is an account of women with various caste affiliations who are offering sexual services for sale on the local market. This is a less known group of Nepali prostitutes, who are socially isolated and subject to persecution by the police, even though prostitution is not prohibited by Nepali law. The women’s responses to this treatment are explored, as is their own accounts of the processes that led them to the sex market. Their own dreams, priorities and concerns are described through extensive excerpts of interviews and group discussions. It is argued that these women are involved in intense attempts of obtaining greater influence over their lives, and a vehement fight for dignity permeates much of what they say and do.
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Ellen Kristvik is a senior researcher at HØKH, Health Services Research Centre, in Lørenskog, Norway.
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