Structural Vulnerabilities, Personal Agency, and Caste: An Exploration of Child Sex Trafficking in Rural India

Rochelle L. Dalla, Trupti Jhaveri Panchal, Sarah Erwin, Jessie Peter, Kaitlin Roselius, Ramani Ranjan, Mrinalini Mischra, Sagar Sahu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) is considered normative and expected among some Indian castes. Focusing on the Bedia specifically, we sought to identify factors responsible for the intergenerational continuation of CSEC as well as opportunities for prevention. To this end, three questions were posed, including: (a) What structural factors perpetuate CSEC among the Bedia? (b) What are the mechanisms by which Bedia children enter the commercial sex industry (CSI)? and (c) To what extent do Bedia women have personal agency in exiting the CSI and in keeping their children from entering? Guided by structural vulnerability theory and a phenomenological approach, in-depth interviews were conducted with 31 Bedia women engaged in (or exited from) the CSI. Results indicate that girls as young as 12 are “selected” to enter the CSI; once involved, they carry the burden of familial financial sustainability and exit only comes when they are no longer able to attract paying clients and younger female kin able to assume the primary breadwinner role. Ability to keep female children from entry is minimal. Implications for future research, practice, and policy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-330
Number of pages24
JournalViolence and Victims
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020


  • Bedia
  • agency
  • caste
  • commercial sex industry
  • human trafficking
  • structural vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Health(social science)
  • Law


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