Parents as Perpetrators: Intergenerational Sex Trafficking in Rural India


Rochelle L. Dalla, PhD, CFLE | September 20 | 11:30 AM-12:30 PM

Topic: Research, International | Knowledge Level: Beginner, Intermediate

Viewed as an urban problem, the bulk of sex trafficking research is focused on large cities and metropolitan areas (Donnermeyer, 2016). However, rural based trafficking plays a significant role in the global trade of humans. India is particularly notorious for the trafficking of women and girls into the commercial sex industry (CSI). Spread across four Indian states, the low caste Bedia rely almost entirely on income generated via the sex trafficking of girls and continued prostitution of adult women. Unique to the Bedia is that prostitution is practiced out of homes, throughout the day, and in rural villages. Unique too is that females’ life-trajectories are determined by parents or parental caregivers (e.g., aunts, grandparents). CSI-involved Bedia girls and women bear the financial burden of entire familial systems. Caste-based discrimination largely precludes Bedia from other forms of employment (Jha, 2016).  Scientific literature on the Bedia, or similar tribes where prostitution is caste-determined, is exceptionally limited. Thus, with the exception of a few studies only, virtually nothing (empirically) is known about the Bedia.   

This investigation was intended, first, to examine cultural traditions associated with sex work among Bedia women. The second goal was to identify familial processes involved in the intergenerational commercial sexual exploitation of Bedia girls. Finally, we sought to explore participants’ familial financial obligations. The Principal Investigator conducted personal, in-depth (and audio-recorded) interviews with 31 CSI involved Bedia, spread across 7 villages. Results will discuss implications for practice, policy, and continued research.

Presentation Objectives:

·  Examine cultural traditions association with sexual exploitation among the Bedia.

·  Determine familial processes involved in the commercial sexual exploitation of Bedia girls.

·  Describe the family financial obligations and burdens assumed by CSI-involved Bedia.

About the Presenter