MALE SEX WORK IN CHENNAI
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MALE SEX WORK IN CHENNAI. Venkatesan Chakrapani, MD. 1. OBJECTIVE. To provide an over-view of male sex work in Chennai [which in turn could give some insights about male sex work in India]. . 2. THIS PRESENTATION IS BASED ON.
MALE SEX WORK IN CHENNAI

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Slide 1

MALE SEX WORK IN CHENNAI

Venkatesan Chakrapani, MD

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 2

1. OBJECTIVE

  • To provide an over-view of male sex work in Chennai [which in turn could give some insights about male sex work in India].

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 3

2. THIS PRESENTATION IS BASED ON

  • Qualitative study done among male sex workers [hereafter MSW] who attended the Institute of STD, Madras Medical College, which was presented in the AIDS India 2000 conference, Dec 1999.[Venkatesan C, Fernandes SD, Ganapathy M, Mallika Johnson. The hidden population of male sex workers in Chennai, Tamil Nadu - The need to develop specific intervention programmes (Poster Presentation). II International Conference on AIDS. AIDS India 2000, Chennai, Dec.1999.]

  • Informal discussions with MSW and male clients of male sex workers who attended the sexual health clinic at Social Welfare Association for Men (SWAM), Chennai.

  • Discussion with Key informants.

  • Review of available literature on male sex work in Chennai

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 4

3. WHOM DOES ‘MALE SEX WORKER’ IN THIS PRESENTATION REFER TO?

  • Denotes males who have sex with other persons (males/females) for money or any kind.

  • Sex work can be full-time or part-time.

    (Note: Aravanis [Hijras/Alis] in sex work are not discussed in this presentation)

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 5

4. PROFILE OF MSW IN CHENNAI

  • No quantitative studies done exclusively among MSW.

  • However, in studies done among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Chennai, MSM who have engaged in sex work have been documented.

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 6

4a. AGE AND LENGTH OF THE CAREER

  • Most of the MSW are younger and usually in their twenties (third decade).

  • Middle-aged MSW expressed difficultly in getting clients though some male clients might prefer to have sex with middle-aged/older MSW.

  • Some older MSW might become pimps for younger MSM and female sex workers.

  • Younger MSW earns relatively more money than middle-aged/older MSW.

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 7

4b. MARITAL STATUS AND HOME ENVIRONMENT

  • Many young MSW are unmarried but most ultimately get married to females. (These include migrants from rural or semi-urban areas).

  • Some MSW live with their family (parents and/or wife) and do sex work in a discreet manner.

  • Some cohabitate with a steady male partner

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 8

4c. ‘OCCUPATIONAL’ STATUS

  • For some MSW, sex work is only a part-time work while for some it is a fulltime job because of variety of reasons.

  • Their occupations are quite diverse but mainly - unskilled labor or working in a private office.

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 9

5. ‘IDENTITY’ OF THE MALE SEX WORKERS

  • Most MSW (interviewed by the author) identified themselves as ‘Kothis’.

  • Little is known about MSW who don’t identify as ‘Kothis’. They might have different identities or might not have any identity at all.

    (Note: There are some western studies that mention about MSW who identify themselves as ‘straight’.)

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 10

5. ‘IDENTITY’ OF THE MALE SEX WORKERS (Contd.)

[Note: Since the male sex workers of low socioeconomic status could be accessed more easily than those in middle and upper socioeconomic status, this presentation mainly depicts the male sex workers of lower socioeconomic status and especially those who identify as ‘Kothi’.]

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 11

6. EARNINGS OF MALE SEX WORKERS

This depends on many factors.

  • the socioeconomic status of the male sex worker

  • the socioeconomic status of the client.

  • type of sexual practices

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 12

7. PLACE OF SEX WORK AND TYPES OF SEX WORKERS

  • ‘soliciting sites’ (‘pickup sites’) and ‘sex sites’ (where sex happens)

  • Pickup sites: examples – beach, park, theater, massage parlour, etc

  • ‘sex sites’: examples – bushy areas in beach/park, lodge, home, massage parlour, etc.

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 13

8. PARTNERS OF MSW

a. Clients of male sex workers:

  • Almost all the clients of MSW belonging to lower socioeconomic status are males. These male clients may be upper/middle class gay men or men who have sex with men (with out any identity).

  • Rarely, MSW might be picked up by a couple (husband and wife) to have sex with both.

  • The male clients of MSW come from different backgrounds – unskilled laborers, skilled (drivers, etc.), professionals (doctors, engineers, etc.), celebrities of film industry, etc.

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 14

8. PARTNERS OF MSW (Contd.)

b. Distinction between commercial partners (male clients) and ‘partners for pleasure’:

  • MSW usually says that they can able to separate ‘sex work’ from their private lives. However many do not deny that they do ‘enjoy’ having sex with their commercial male partners too.

  • Some MSW have mentioned that if a client is good-looking and attractive, they might ‘charge’ lesser [lesser money] or even don’t ‘charge’ so that they don’t loose that ‘client’.

  • The above shows the difficulty and ambiguity in the traditional classification of men who have sex with men (MSM) as belonging to either “pleasure circuit” or “commercial circuit”.

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 15

8. PARTNERS OF MSW (Contd.)

c. Regular male partners or cohabiting partners of MSW

  • Some MSW have regular male partners (‘lovers’) and some even cohabitate with their regular male partners (‘lover’ or “husband”).

  • These regular male partners of MSW may or may not know that their partners are sex workers.

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 16

8. PARTNERS OF MSW (Contd.)

d. Wives/female partners of MSW:

  • Many MSW ultimately get married to a female and might continue with male sex work either part-time or full-time.

  • Female partners of MSW often do not know that their husbands/lovers also have sex with males.

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 17

9. INJECTION DRUG USE AND MALE SEX WORK

  • Some injecting drug users or even non-injecting illicit drug users can exchange sex for drugs/money

  • Information about ‘professional MSW’ who also use injecting drugs is not known.

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 18

10. PRISON AND MALE SEX WORK

  • Little is known about male sex work in prisons.

  • Some male prisoners exchange sex for drugs or for getting protection from ‘rowdies’ (by having sex with the ‘Dada’ – chief rowdy).

  • Some male prisoners might exchange sex with the jail supervisors to get some favors.

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 19

11. SEXUAL PRACTICES AND CONDOM USAGE AMONG MSW

a. Types of sexual practices

  • All types of sexual practices are practiced by MSW.

  • Common: Oral sex and masturbation.

  • However, significant proportion also have anal sex (receptive /insertive).

  • The type of sexual practices might vary with the type of ‘sex site’ (where sex happens), type of sexual partner (client or regular), amount of money, etc.

  • There are no studies which compares knowledge, attitude, and practices of MSW and MSM who don’t do sex work. It is not known whether MSW have more knowledge about STD/HIV and more consistently use condoms than other MSM.

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 20

11. SEXUAL PRACTICES AND CONDOM USAGE AMONG MSW (Contd.)

b. Condom use by MSW might depend on many factors:

  • Money:

    Some reported having had unprotected anal sex with their male clients if they offered to pay more.

  • Physical/Emotional Attraction:

    Some sex workers acknowledged that they did not use condoms if the person looked clean or if they liked that person.

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 21

11. SEXUAL PRACTICES AND CONDOM USAGE AMONG MSW (Contd.)

b. Condom use by MSW might depend on many factors (Contd.)

  • Type of sexual practices:

    Condoms are mainly used for anal sex and rarely for oral sex. (This could be because that they feel oral sex is risk-free or they might accept the minimal risk associated with unprotected oral sex.)

  • Type of sexual partners:

    Condoms also seem to be less used with their regular male partners/’husbands’ (cohabiting male partners) compared to their male clients. Condoms use with female partners/wives is also very rare compared to male partners in general.

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 22

SEXUAL PRACTICES - PENETRATIVE

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 23

SEXUAL PRACTICES - NON PENETRATIVE

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 24

OVERALL CONSISTENCY OF CONDOM USE

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 25

CONSISTENCY OF CONDOM USE

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 26

CONSISTENCY OF CONDOM USE

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 27

12. LUBRICANT USE

  • Water-based lubricants are almost never used (either unknown or not affordable).

  • Irrespective of condom use, some MSW do apply oil (like coconut oil) in their buttocks to facilitate anal sex. Some might use ‘butter’ for the same purpose.

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 28

13. STD/HIV AMONG MSW

  • Till date there are no studies that exclusively looked at STD/HIV prevalence among MSW.

  • However, STD/HIV prevalence among MSM (in general) in Chennai indicates that significant proportion might have STDs and HIV.

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 29

13. STD/HIV AMONG MSW(Contd.)

STD/HIV AMONG MSM WHO ATTENDED SWAM CLINIC

(n=51 over 3 months)

Clinical Patterns of STDs:

Perianal Warts (8%) , Genital Herpes (8%)

Perianal herpes (2%), Secondary syphilis (2%)

Gonococcal urethritis (2%), Molluscum contagiosum (2%)

Proctitis (4%), Scabies (2%)

Prostatitis (2%)

HIV: 14% self-reported HIV-positive status

[Venkatesan C, Sekar B. Demographic and Clinical Characteristics of males who have sex with males (MSM) attending a community-based STD clinic in Chennai. [Poster presentation]. III International Conference on AIDS. AIDS India 2000, Chennai, India. Dec 2001.]

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 30

14. RELATIONS BETWEEN MALE AND FEMALE SEX WORKERS

  • There seems to be good relations between kothi-identified MSW and street-based female sex workers. Sometimes fights over the ‘territory of solicitation’ or ‘catching the clients’ may occur between MSW and street-based female sex workers.

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 31

14. RELATIONS BETWEEN MALE AND FEMALE SEX WORKERS (Contd.)

  • Other categories of MSW have almost no relations/connections with female sex workers.

  • Some male sex workers act as ‘pimps’ for female sex workers if their male clients also want females.

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 32

15. VIOLENCE

  • Most often (street-based) MSW face violence from the police men and from local rowdies.

  • Policemen used to pick up MSW even if they are not soliciting. These policemen for no obvious reasons beat MSW and sometimes could even force MSW for oral/anal sex.

  • Some male clients may force MSW to have unprotected sex and might also beat them up once sex is over.

  • Some times MSW might have to face violence from “gay bashers” too.

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 33

15. VIOLENCE (Contd.)

  • An incident was recalled by a HIV-positive MSW who was forced by a local rowdy to anally penetrate him with out condoms. That positive-MSW had to obey him since otherwise he had to face violence.

  • Violence from the family members also occurs if they come to know about the sexuality or sex work of MSW.

  • Domestic violence (with cohabiting male partner) seems to be underreported.

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 34

16. REASONS GIVEN FOR MALE SEX WORK

  • The commonly cited reason is for money – either money for survival or money for additional expenses.

  • A few MSW have mentioned that they do sex work to get money for their higher education.

  • There could be other reasons too that need to be explored.

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 35

17. MALE SEX WORK AND PORNOGRAPHY

  • A minor proportion of MSW (irrespective of identity) are also involved in pornography (‘heterosexual pornography’).

  • For a single ‘project’ they might receive a bulk amount.

  • These MSW might be asked to have sex with other males who shoot the pornography video.

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 36

18. AVAILABLE SERVICES FOR MSW IN CHENNAI

  • ‘Kothi-identified’ MSW in cruising areas are reached by a few organizations which serve men who have sex with men. These are often in the form of outreach education, condom distribution and promotion, and STD referral services - if they have any STD-related complaints.

  • Other categories of MSW (those who belong to middle/upper class and those who don’t identify themselves as ‘Kothis’) seem to be hard-to-reach group and almost no services are available to them.

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003

Slide 37

19. EXPRESSED NEEDS OF MSW IN CHENNAI

  • good-quality condoms for anal and oral sex (especially “which don’t inhibit pleasure”)

  • lubricants

  • nonjudgemental and quality STD services

  • protection from violence, legal support and sensitization of police men.

Venkatesan Chakrapani Male Sex Work - Chennai, March 2003


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