Home » HOME » Male sex workers in society; their woes and stories of pain

Male sex workers in society; their woes and stories of pain

Male sex workers in society; their woes and stories of pain
Sharing is Important

Ground Report | New Delhi: Male sex workers in society; Sex workers are not only women but also identify as cisgender male and third gender/transgender. The common perception that HIV AIDS is the principal health hazard to sex workers is often not the most pressing, self-reported health concern by them. Shady, deserted areas, empty spaces behind buses, parks, metro rail construction sites, and the railway station are the usual hubs of the sex trade in the cities.

Contrary to popular myths, sex workers are not passive recipients of the trade, also sex workers often live in families and have multiple identities as mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers. It is also seen that sex workers increasingly operate from non-brothel-based settings.

Male sex workers in society

Male prostitution, both forced and voluntary, is a reality that is often forgotten in the discourse on gender rights and issues. From gigolos to massage experts, masseurs or escorts, men involved in this trade sport have diverse looks apart from the fact that they come from contrasting economic and educational backgrounds.  

Most male masseurs on the street are trafficked from rural areas of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan and other states of India to work in the metros. They are mostly illiterate or semi-literate. A deeper probe into their lives brings out their reasons to join this profession. It is the most tragic tales of neglect, discrimination, and abuse that they face during childhood turning them into the current versions of themselves.

According to Suraksha Society, a Hyderabad-based organisation that works with people of alternative sexuality, there are nearly 50,000 sex workers in the state of Andhra Pradesh alone. However, the number of male sex workers among them is not known.

Archana Rao, a development communication specialist who has worked extensively with sex workers from across India, says some of these boys have been abused as children. “The psychological impact on these kids or men is huge” she explains.

ALSO READ: Women Sex Workers of Sonagachi; their daily life and struggles

Many boys and young men who join this work live stigmatized lives, with little or no educational opportunities, earning very little by offering massage services and selling their bodies.

According to a United Nations report, some Indian traditions and customs also have a role to play in the rise or increasing trend of the male sex trade. The report “Traditionalising male prostitution in India” says that boys in the age group of 15 to 25 with a feminine demeanour migrate to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh from various states to perform what is called the ‘Launda naach.’  

Launda dancers spice up entertainment during marriages in the states of Bihar and UP, where weddings are elaborate affairs with a rustic dose of merry-making, drinking, music, and dance. Launda dancers are predominantly effeminate men, dressed in women’s attire. The Laundas (young boys) are hired by poor families as they cannot afford “more expensive” women dancers.

The dancers mainly belong to lower-middle-class and poor families of West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra while some hail from Nepal and Bangladesh. They usually arrive in these states during the peak marriage season between April and June in summer and from December to February during winter.

A report published in 2014 reveals that these dancers are very vulnerable to physical and sexual assault. They are often bitten or stubbed by those who come to watch the – men with carnal instincts. A group of 10 to 15 men could physically carry a dancer to a field and gang-rape him. And, this is a very common trend. Resistance only leads to greater torture and sometimes even death.

ALSO READ: Sex workers fight for home and respect in Nagpur

According to a survey by the Sambhavana Society that works with male sex workers in India, many masseurs and escorts opt for sex work as it promises easy money or “pocket money” which helps them gain financial stability, support their families, or pay for education. Some boys who are forced into the sex trade via trafficking or child labour also end up living this life for the money, the survey explains.

Female clients from affluent families are the ones who usually seek such mobile masseurs or escorts. “Their demands dictate the way the escort must dress up or pander to their sexual fantasies. Apart from pleasure, these men are also showered with gifts and large sums of money,” says a specialist, adding that massage centres, sauna hubs, spas have become notorious for the sex trade. Pubs are also common places where women come looking for masseurs who are involved in the trade. 

“We exchange phone numbers and get called. Depending on the client’s demands, we check the escort’s availability and fix a price and place, the payment could go up to as high as Rs 1 lakh,” reveals Munna (name changed), a bisexual sex worker operating in Hyderabad.

Nowadays online escort service platforms are being run by sex worker organizations. In an interview one of the members from the Delhi Male Sex Workers Association said: “These pages on Facebook or other social media are just congregational points for clients looking for pleasure. We only exchange contact details online. The real transaction happens offline after the payment has been made online.”

READ:  How COVID-19 has changed education forever?

Male prostitution, both forced and voluntary, is a reality that is often forgotten in the discourse on gender rights and issues. Tejaswini Pagadala throws light on the lives of male sex workers in the country.

ALSO READ: Naked baby from ‘Nevermind’ cover sues Nirvana for “child pornography”

12 March 2014 

As the clock strikes seven every evening, they get down to business. Plain-clothed men, who look just like any other bystander on the road, await their clients. Picked up by women who drive luxury cars, or catering to men looking for cheap sex, they live a clandestine life satisfying the needs of both sexes. Meet Hyderabad’s male sex workers.

Shady, deserted areas, empty spaces behind buses, parks, metro rail construction sites, and the railway station are the usual hubs of the sex trade in the city. From gigolos to massage experts, masseurs, or escorts, these men sport diverse looks apart from contrasting economic and educational backgrounds.  

Most male masseurs on the street are trafficked from rural areas of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan and other states of India to work in the metros. They are mostly illiterate or semi-literate. A deeper probe into the lives they have left behind more often than not reveals tragic tales of neglect, discrimination, and abuse.

There is also a second group known as male escorts, who offer direct sex (not massage services) and, in most cases, belong to the city they operate in. They are usually literate and cater to high-profile clients.

According to Krishna Naidu of Suraksha Society, a Hyderabad-based organisation that works with people of alternative sexuality, there are nearly 50,000 sex workers in the state of Andhra Pradesh alone. However, the number of male sex workers among these is not known.

Naidu says that many boys and young men who join this work live stigmatized lives, with little or no educational opportunities, earning very little by offering massage services and selling their bodies.

Archana Rao, a development communication specialist who has worked extensively with sex workers from across India, says some of these boys have been abused as children. “The psychological impact on these kids or men is huge” she explains.

Traditions and male prostitution

According to a United Nations report, certain Indian traditions and customs also have a role to play in the perpetuation of the male sex trade. The report “Traditionalising male prostitution in India” says that boys in the age group of 15 to 25 with a feminine demeanor migrate to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh from various states to perform what is called the ‘Launda naach.’  

Launda dancers define and spice up entertainment during marriages in the Hindi heartland, especially in Bihar and UP, where weddings are elaborate affairs with a rustic dose of merry-making, drinking, music, and dance. Launda dancers are predominantly effeminate men, dressed in women’s attire.

The Laundas (young boys) are hired by poor families as they cannot afford “more expensive” women dancers. The dancers mainly belong to lower-middle-class and poor families of West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra while some hail from Nepal and Bangladesh. They come to Bihar and UP during the peak marriage season between April and June in summer and from December to February during winter.

ALSO READ: 5 countries in world known for sex! Thousands of Indians travel here every year

These dancers are very vulnerable to physical and sexual assault. They are often bitten or stubbed by those who come to watch the – men with carnal instincts. “A group of 10 to 15 men could physically carry a dancer to a field and gang-rape him. And, this is a very common trend. Resistance only leads to greater torture and sometimes even death,” the report reveals.

Commodification of masculinity

While there is a huge demand for young men in the male sex trade, and many are forced into it by circumstance, interestingly, there is also a population of male escorts (paid highly by female clients) who voluntarily take a plunge in the sex trade.

With the commodification of men surging in recent times through advertisements in newspapers, social media, and movies, there has been a concomitant, silent surge in the male sex trade.

According to a survey by the Sambhavana Society that works with male sex workers in India, many masseurs and escorts opt for sex work as it promises easy money or “pocket money” which helps them gain financial stability, support their families, or pay for education. Some boys who are forced into the sex trade via trafficking or child labour also end up living this life for the money, the survey explains.

READ:  JEE advance syllabus revised , What you should know?

Female clients from affluent families are the ones who usually seek such mobile masseurs or escorts. “Their demands dictate the way the escort must dress up or pander to their sexual fantasies. Apart from pleasure, these men are also showered with gifts and large sums of money,” says Archana, adding that massage centres, sauna hubs, spas have become notorious for the sex trade. Pubs are also common places where women come looking for masseurs.

According to Munna (name changed), a bisexual who operates in Hyderabad, women interested in men contact him after seeing an advertisement in a newspaper or the online space. “We exchange phone numbers and get called. Depending on the client’s demands, we check the escort’s availability and fix a price and place,” he says, adding that the payment could go up to as high as Rs 1 lakh.

Many of these groups also have online groups or communities on social media. When asked about escort services, one of the members from the Delhi Male Sex Workers Association said: “These pages on Facebook or other social media are just congregational points for clients looking for pleasure. We only exchange contact details online. The real transaction happens offline after the payment has been made online.”

Pimps offering escort services can sometimes give the client an “NRI choice” too. This means if a female client is looking for an NRI, the pimps try to meet the requirement. Interestingly, a network of pimps stationed at airports, bus stops, and railway stations keep tabs on NRIs and approach them if they are ‘out of stock.

It would, however, be wrong to assume that all males in the flesh trade are generously compensated and are driven by the lure of lucre. A vast number is forced into the business and paid pitiably, not to mention the abuse they endure. Indeed, as a transgender in the city of Hyderabad says, the “per-session” charge could be as low as Rs 10, going up to Rs 400-500. “Unfortunately, our make-up cost alone could exceed what we earn, because we have to dress up the way the client wants,” she explains.

Many of these mobile sex workers are homosexual or bisexual, forced into the trade by lack of social acceptance of their sexual orientation.  (Male sex workers in society)

There is a misconception that the male sex trade doesn’t exist at all also persists among many. “This misconception actually protects male sex workers sometimes, because when there is a crackdown by police, only the female sex workers get framed while the men get away with it,” adds the communication specialist. (Male sex workers in society)

Data from Human Rights Watch (HRW) says there are over 20 million prostitutes (predominantly female) in India. Of these, nearly 35 percent enter the trade between 12 and 18 years of age. The trafficking industry in India is estimated to generate $4 billion a year and has at its core, investors, unscrupulous recruiters, and corrupt public officials as principal participants.

“The law governing sex work – the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA) considers trafficking, abduction, and forced prostitution of any minor or adult (male or female) illegal. It treats rescued girls or women as victims and has provisions for providing them with shelters. But given that there is no accurate data on male prostitution in India, it is tougher to protect male sex workers from violence or abuse”, adds an official.

Male sex workers are often doubly victimized by the circumstances that force them into the trade, and also by the lack of any institutionalized effort to protect or rehabilitate them.

Most of them work in some other capacity during the day and transform into completely different people at night as active participants in the male sex trade. Meanwhile, their lives go on and the situation repeats itself every time, day after day.

Read PART 1, PART 2,

You can connect with Ground Report on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and WhatsappFor suggestions and writeups mail us at GReport2018@gmail.com

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: