Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



Published in Advances in Life Course Research 54 (2022) 100517



Published by Elsevier Ltd. Used by permission.


Thousands of Indian women and girls enter the commercial sex industry (CSI) annually based solely on membership in particular castes (e.g., Bedia, Nat). CSI-involved females bear the burden of sustaining entire family units on money earned in the sex trade; it is a life-long responsibility with negligible social status or personal indemnity. Based on the life-course developmental theory (Elder, Jr. 1994, 1998) this investigation was intended to examine trafficked women’s experiences within the commercial sex industry across time. Beyond the CSI, we were equally interested in experiences with factors that could promote well-being (i.e., social support) and normative developmental transitions including education attainment and motherhood. To that end, three questions were posed. First, to what extent do factors surrounding CSI entry and continued involvement differ through time among CSI-involved Bedia? Second, how do CSI-involved Bedia describe social network composition and perceived support through time? Finally, are differences detectable, through time, in CSI-involved Bedia women’s experiences with normative developmental transitions including education attainment and motherhood? Interview data were collected from 31 Bedia females (age range 17 – 65 years) residing in rural Madhya Pradesh, India. To examine change through time, participants were divided into cohorts based on age and time involved in the commercial sex industry. Data were then analyzed within and across cohorts with particular attention to cohort-related experiential differences. Policy implications and suggestions for continued research are presented.