Kalavanthalu Sex Workers in Peddapuram

A street scene in Peddapuram, home to the Kalavanthalu caste of sex workers.

India’s ridged caste system dictates that Kalavanthalu women from coastal Andhra Pradesh be employed only as sex workers. This discriminatory tradition is fading with the decline of feudal power structures. Of the 800 sex workers in the town of Peddapuram (pop. 40,000), 250 are Kalavanthalu. The sex industry has changed in India. Those Kalavanthalu women who still undertake sex work must compete with other prostitutes. And many Kalavanthalu women now want their daughters to pursue an education in order to escape the exploitative practice.

Photo: Tom Pietrasik
Peddapuram, Andhra Pradesh. India
June 4th 2009

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