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Responsibilization through regulatory intermediaries in informal markets: Examining the governance of prostitution in India

Yugank Goyal

Regulation & Governance, 2022, vol. 16, issue 3, 858-874

Abstract: “Independent” sex work outside red light areas in big cities in developing countries is an understudied phenomenon. Through a survey of independent sex workers in Delhi, India, this paper sheds light on the governance of independent prostitution. It shows that in the sex work industry, which is informal in nature and faces a complex legal architecture, regulatory intermediaries (RIs) drive both regulation and responsibilization strategies. On behalf of the state, the police act as regulatory intermediaries, implementing hierarchical regulation. In red light areas, sex workers' collectives and solidarity networks operate as RIs on behalf of workers. But in independent sex work, it is pimps who act as intermediaries for workers, driving their responsibilization strategies. Independent sex workers take up the services of pimps even though they charge hefty fees, in large part because pimps can negotiate their protection from the police. I examine several characteristics of the relationships between prostitutes, pimps, clients, and the police, and refine the RIT model of regulatory intermediaries (Abbott et al. 2017) in the context of prostitution in a developing country.

Date: 2022
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Handle: RePEc:wly:reggov:v:16:y:2022:i:3:p:858-874