Experiences of sex trafficking victims in Mumbai, India

J. G. Silverman, M. R. Decker, J. Gupta, A. Maheshwari, V. Patel, B. M. Willis, A. Raj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Objective: To explore mechanisms and contexts related to sex trafficking victimization among South Asian women and girls rescued from brothels in Mumbai, India. Methods: Records of residents at a major non-governmental organization providing rescue, shelter and care of minor girls and of women held against their will in brothels in Mumbai were systematically reviewed (n = 160). Descriptive statistics were calculated, and demographic differences in trafficking mechanisms and pre-disposing contexts were explored. Results: The majority of victims (51.9%) were trafficked as minors and by individuals previously known to them (59.7%). Traffickers most commonly lured victims via promises of economic opportunity (55.0%) or kidnapped individuals via use of drugs or force (26.3%). Victims were most often trafficked from public settings (e.g., markets, train stations; 50.9%) and via public transportation (94.9%). Almost half (49.4%) reported some type of family disruption as directly leading to their being trafficked; violence involving husbands or other family members (38.0%) and marital separation or abandonment (32.9%) were the most common forms of disruption reported. Differences in experiences of trafficking were identified based on age, nationality, education, and marital status; no differences were found based on religion. Conclusion: The interaction of poverty and gender-based mistreatment of women and girls in families heightens the risk of sex trafficking; further empirical research is needed on this critically understudied issue. Prevention efforts should work to improve economic opportunities and security for impoverished women and girls, educate communities regarding the tactics and identities of traffickers, as well as promote structural interventions to reduce trafficking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-226
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • India
  • Prostitution
  • South Asia
  • Trafficking
  • Violence
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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