Cultural Sex Work in India and the Right to Health

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Abraar Karan
Dr. Abraar Karan is an MPH candidate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He has worked in several countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa on global health and human rights projects. His current interests include health systems improvement, medical ethics, political leadership in health, and anti-corruption. Abraar graduated from UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and Yale College. t: @AbraarKaran

In India, there are a number of tribal communities that have systematized the sexual exploitation of their mothers and daughters, often masking their work as “tradition”. These communities are relatively understudied, and are at the fringes of healthcare and social safety systems. They are remnants of India’s tribes that were outlawed by the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871 and thus turned to alternative forms of economic survival, namely prostitution. In my piece in the Huffington Post, I explore the history and present of these tribal groups, and argue that access to healthcare is essential in destabilizing these systems that are exploiting women.