Development of Children of Female Commercial Sex Workers in Vijayawada ...
Development of Children of Female
Commercial Sex Workers in Vijayawada
Children of female sex workers from ten areas were studied in the city of
Vijayawada, the commercial nerve centre of Andhra Pradesh where the descriptive
survey design was adopted. The research variable of development was assessed
through physical, psychological and social development factors. Regression
analysis shows that education, among other variables, contributes positively. Sex,
as a variable, is conspicuously absent in the equation, thus, arousing uneasy
questions. Growth centres are, therefore, recommended to strengthen specific
areas of development.
Dr. Hannah Anandraj is Lecturer, P.G. College of Social Work, Hyderabad.
The status of children the world over truly reflects their nation's
progress. It is this fact that motivates right thinking citizens to invest
in child development activities. Protecting the right of children to
survive, to education and develop into realising their full potential,
therefore, becomes a pivotal point in a nation's development.
The face of the children of India can be seen portrayed against the
syndrome of poverty and deprivation. While several categories of
children are in the grip of social and physical disadvantages, the
children of commercial sex workers have not only been marginalised,
but receive scant attention as well. Social institutions of education and
marriage slam the doors on their face. Besides, they are caught up in
an ever tightening grip of the vicious cycle of commercial sex. Men
and women inside and outside of the criminal network, with vested
interest uppermost in their minds, are ready to raise these children with
the intention of returning them to the quagmire of the flesh trade.
While various factors contribute to the development of the child,
the question must be addressed within the context of commercial sex
trade. In the state of Andhra Pradesh, over 10,000 women have been
estimated to have taken to this trade.
Vijayawada is the second largest city in Andhra Pradesh. Located on
the banks of the Krishna river, it forms apart of the district the same name
and is spread over an area of 58 sq kms, with an estimated population of
ninelakhs and an additional floating population of three lakhs.
Commercially, Vijayawada is the nerve centre of the state. The
phenomenal growth of commerce has led to an unprecedented increase
in support activities and also in the demand and supply. Perched
strategically on the trade route, National Highway No. 5 runs through
the heart of the city leading to heavy influx of lorries, trucks and other
transport vehicles, a sure sign of rampant spread of HIV/AIDS and
other sexually transmitted diseases.
This study focuses on the development of children of female sex
workers (FSWs) in the city of Vijayawada.
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
Based on various sources, Kapur (1993) estimated that, approximately
20 per cent of the sex workers in the country are girl children. In the
city of Vijayawada, out of 200 blood tests, 12 cases tested positive for
HIV, which worked out to be between 50-60 per 1000. This is five
times the national average of 16 positive cases per 1000. Among the
sex workers, 50 per cent tested positive for HIV (Samaram, 1997).
These figures show the moral and physical danger the children face.
Sonawat and Chopra (1996: 51), have pointed out that there is a
growing concern in the government circles, academicians, researchers
and voluntary organisations that children, specially girl children of sex
workers, have been deprived of early childhood care. A deprived home
environment, health facilities, food and clothing, poor physical, emo-
tional and social development, are just a few among a host of factors.
The various specific drawbacks and hardships endured by these chil-
dren have been reported by Desai and Apte (1987) and Desai, Apte
and Parwani (1986).
Apprehensions about and concerns for the children of commercial
sex workers, have been expressed in various fora and strategies to
tackle these have been spelled out as shown in several reports
(Bhaskaran, 1990; Dasgupta, 1990; Das and Chopra, 1990; Katyal,
1994; Patkar, 1991; Pawar, 1991; Singh, 1990).
Discussing the plight of the girl child in red light areas of Mumbai,
Patkar (1991: 71) traces the immense inhuman conditions they are
554 Development of Children of Female Commercial Sex Workers
subjected to. These children are vulnerable to the ways of the trade
from their birth and at every stage of their growing up. In fact, they are
known as daughters of the street and are discriminated against and
stigmatised at all levels.
It is a well-known fact that girl children face a life time of depriva-
tion and discrimination (even without being the children of sex work-
ers) (Ghosh, 1991). This fact is underscored by Anandalakshmi
(1991), who points out the fact that in a tradition that over-indulges
the male, the female child is surely at a disadvantage. In her study of
child rearing practices and behaviour development of the girl child in
Andhra Pradesh, Bhogle (1991) raised certain issues which showed
that girls differed significantly from their male counterparts. Gender
discrimination has, thus, been taken for granted, especially among the
The contribution of education to specific areas and overall adjust-
ment and development have been noticed all along. This fact has been
brought out in a study, in the slums of Hyderabad, where education,
as a variable, contributes significantly towards adolescent adjustment
Familial variables reflecting the structure, function and quality of
the environment have been associated with the quality of development
of a child. Friction between parents gives rise to anxiety among
children (Majumdar, 1985). A poor home environment results in
significantly more frequent occurrence of emotional disturbance as
compared to others (Dhoundial, 1984). Parental support was found to
be a powerful correlate of school achievement (Singh, 1983). Specific
relational variables such as mother's personality, the extent of her
acceptance or rejection have all been reported to play a major role in
the development of the child, be it normal or faulty. Relationship
between mother's personality and behaviour disorder in children, have
been pointed out by Broody (1969) and Britton (1962). Bowlby (1951)
inferred that serious emotional deprivations in the mother's childhood
lead to her children facing the same pathogenic experiences.
The concept of development of the child has been viewed as the
emergence and expansion of the capacity to provide greater facility in
function. This development is achieved through the process of growth,
maturation and learning with quantitative and qualitative changes.
Sharma and Gairola (1990), and Mussen, Conger, Kagan and Huston
(1984) have focused on the person's physical and neurological struc-
ture, behaviour and traits that emerge in orderly ways, Liebert, Poulos
and Strauss (1974), refer to development as a process of change in
growth and capacity over time as a function of both maturation and
interaction with the environment. Broadly, the foundation of overall
development can be traced to the areas of physical, psychological and
Studies in physical development, repeatedly show the association
between birth-weight and motor development. In a longitudinal study
in and around Hyderabad district in Andhra Pradesh, a correlation
between mothering and infant activities and infant birth weight were
established (Arya, 1980). Rao, Shastry and Vijayaraghavan (1974)
have shown the ill effects of malnutrition in the slum children of
Hyderabad. Kadam, Salunke, Jhadhav and Bonsale (1983) pointed out
that malnutrition does not occur in isolation, but is associated with
socioeconomic and health factors. Significantly better mental devel-
opment has been reported in an experimental research with supple-
mentary nutrition in the villages of Andhra Pradesh (Bhogle, 1979).
Psychological development is directly associated with nutritional
level and with increasing severity of malnutrition. There is a highly
significant fall in the performance on the intelligence scale, especially
among children in the crucial years of development namely, 1-6 years
(Kalra, Mishra, Kumar, Prasad and Dayal, 1980). Lowering of mental
function has been traded to specific nutritional deficiency diseases
such as Kwashiorkar (Pareek, Udani, Naik and Shah, 1974).
The social development of the child is his/her essential link between
self and the world around. Children from advantaged and disadvantaged
social backgrounds had significantly different IQ levels (Sharma, 1984).
Low social class of the children contributed to them being highly depend-
ent. Besides, social factors such as caste and education of parents, were
also significantly related (Bhogle, 1983). Majeed and Gosh (1983) have
found the effect of social class to be significant on cognitive differentiation
while the socioeconomic status may be predicted by knowing the subjects'
mental development (Sen and Goel, 1982).
1. To study the pattern of development of the children of female
sex workers, Vijayawada.
2. To study certain select personal, familial and social inde-
pendent variables of the subjects.
3. To analyse the relationship between the variable of develop-
ment and the personal, familial and social variables.
556 Development of Children of Female Commercial Sex Workers
The descriptive survey design was selected. Conceptually, the study
aims at analysing the physical, psychological, social and overall de-
velopment of the target children as the dependent variable. Select
personal, familial and social independent variables, were analysed to
establish their association with and relation to the dependent variable,
thus, determining the pattern of development.
1. Boys and girls differ significantly in their development pattern.
2. Stronger the education variable, better the development.
3. Familial variables play a more significant role in the develop-
ment of children.
Definition of the Concepts
1. Pattern of development: The term pattern of development is
used to refer to the totality of physical, psychological and social
skills and their different levels measured among the children in
2. Female Sex Worker: is defined as a woman who has a biologi-
cal child or is bringing up a child who fits the definition of child
in the study, living in the poorer sections of Vijayawada, among
others of the same line of work, that is, sexual activities for
3. Child: any person
• born to or raised by a female sex worker,
• resides at the time of the study in the areas selected for the
• is within the age category of 0-45 years.
order to avoid subjectivity and bias, probability sampling was used.
Out of the slums and backward areas of Vijayawada, an in depth search
was made, using various contacts, to locate pockets of organised sex
work. Ten locations were selected using this design.
A complete and rapid survey in these localities provided a sampling
frame consisting of 312 children who fit the definition of the study.
All were included, that is, the entire universe was studied. The unit of
analysis was the child.
Methods and Tools of Data Collection
The basic methods of interviewing, observation and case study were used
for data collection. The tools used were interview schedule, consisting of
questions pertaining to the major variable of development and the inde-
pendent variables. The questions were to be asked and filled by the
researcher. Information was sought, both from the mother and from the
child. Standardised psycho-social scales such as Vineland Social Maturity
Scale, Binet-Kamat Test of Intelligence and Gessel Development Sched-
ules were used to measure the psycho-social development. Seguin Form
Board (SFB) was used to measure the development quotient (DQ) and
the scores were recorded on the observation chart. Physical development
was based on the 'weight of age' criterion from the standardised chart.
The independent variables were measured using both standardised
scales and questions. To measure the variable of Behaviour Problems
among the children, Child Behaviour Rating was used. To analyse the
independent variable of peer influence, an analysis chart was used. The
other variables were measured at ordinal level and scores were given
to questions, culling out the necessary information. Few other vari-
ables were also measured at the nominal level. The independent
variables were: age, sex, education, religion, work, vocational aspira-
tion, behaviour problems, size of family, educated members in the
family, mother's awareness of sexually transmitted diseases, mother's
aspirations for the child, services preferred by the mother, caste, peer
influence and influence of media (TV/Movies).
Data Processing and Statistical Analysis
The data were processed and statistical analysis was earned out. The tests
applied were gamma, X
2 and Multiple Regression Analysis. The regression
equation explains the pattern of development among the target children.
The development of each child has no single direct or simple empirical
refferrant. Therefore, the aspects of development namely physical,
psychological and social development of the respondents, were meas-
ured and a unified, overall measure was taken to denote development
in its totality.
558 Development of Children of Female Commercial Sex Workers
The weight of each respondent was measured. Based on 'weight for
age' standard table, each respondent was gauged (Rao and Vi-
The Gessel Developmental Schedule was used for children of 1-72
months and a total score of development age (DA) was computed.
From this, DQ was computed by dividing DA and chronological
age (CA) and multiplying it by 100.
Binet-Kamat Test of Intelligence (Kamat, 1958) was used and basal
age was calculated as the age wherein all items were passed. Ceiling
age, at which no item was passed is then recorded. For every test passed
beyond the basal level, credits were given and IQ was computed using
the standard formula
The SFB was used to measure the motor coordination and percep-
tion of form among the subjects of 3.5-10 years. The time taken for
performance completion was recorded thrice on the record sheet and
the shortest time taken of the three trials was taken as the record time.
These time scores were then converted into equivalent mental age
(MA) by referring to SFB norms based on which IQ was calculated.
In order to measure and quantify social development, Vineland Social
Maturity Scale was used (Doll, 1958). This scale is designed to
estimate the social age (SA) and social quotient (SQ) of each respon-
dent. The scale measures social maturity in eight social areas and is
used for the age group of 0-15 years.
The entire effort of measuring and analysing the respondents' physical,
psychological and social development needed to be synthesised to
make meaning and the inference comprehensive. Since the scores for
the three sub areas are not additive and can not be treated cumulatively,
to bring these scores into equal footing, absolute scores of each sub
area were calculated by dividing the scores received by each respon-
dent by the maximum score and multiplying it by 100. Thus, all the
three sets of scores for the sub were computed to give absolute overall
scores for 300. The quartile values (Q l = 124.4, Q3 = 178.5) divided
the respondents into three groups — those with low, moderate and
high levels of overall development.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
To analyse the association and relationship between the research
variable, development and other independent variables, X2
ficient of contingency were applied. The results are provided in Table 1.
TABLE 1: Development of Respondents
Table 1 brings out the personal, familial and social variables that
are associated with development of the respondents. They emerge
as age, education, work, vocational aspiration, behaviour problems,
family income, closeness to mother, mother's preferences for services,
peer influence and media watching. It can be noticed that, among the
different groups of respondents based on these independent variables,
560 Development of Children of Female Commercial Sex
there is a significant difference with respect to their development.
These findings show that among the different groups of respondents,
under each of these independent variables, there is a tremendous need
for action, so as to strengthen their development.
The observed significant difference between those with high or
low educational achievement, indicate the need for consolidating
efforts to educate these children. In turn, education would distance
them from the dreaded child labour. To bring out vocational aspi-
ration, work must be focused, because within the present context of
poverty and sex work, the career aspiration is heavily over-shadowed.
Planning and choosing a career, in addition to having an aspiration,
other than continuing in sex work as seen here, contributes to
There is a need to tackle the behaviour problem of these children,
since development is impeded under the burden of behaviour prob-
lems. Since peer influence is associated with development, the need to
help the children to establish meaningful and satisfying peer relation-
ship has been identified. The contribution of mass media in develop-
ment, underline the fact that tapping this resource could go a long way
in building the future of these children.
Further analysis was carried out to see the pattern of development
among the respondents. Step-wise multiple regression analysis was
carried out and the results are presented in Table 2.
TABLE 2 : Patterns of Development
The equation that emerges out of this analysis using the regression
coefficient of correlation is as follows:
Development of the Children of Female Sex Workers = 172.69 K
+ -7.25 Age + 1.64 Education + 6.60 Religion + 4.97 Services + 54 Media
(-16.06) (2.52) • (2.33) (2.61) (2.83)
It can be seen, on analysing these factors, that age is an important
correlate of development and its contribution is inversely related to
development. During 'babyhood', the community and the mother-figure
rally around and provide for the child. The innate dependence of the
child wins its way towards better care and, therefore, better develop-
ment is possible. Gradually, the picture changes and the child is left to
fend for himself/herself as was often encountered in the scene of the
study, thus, diminishing development.
Education, religion, services preferred by the mother and influence
of media are the variables that contribute positively to development.
Education is featured as an important correlate of development. De-
spite the flaws in the educational system that one finds in the schools,
in and around the poorer sections of the city, education still spells
enlightenment for the child. Thus, the direct contribution of education
can be observed.
While religion and religious values are important for development,
mothers' preference of educational services and their wanting to
provide better opportunities for the child has found a place among the
contributors to development.
Media watching (TV/Movies), despite its controversies, proved to
be a significant contributor to development. The powerful media
provide a relief from the otherwise unstimulated mind of the child,
providing opportunities and psycho-social outlets, thereby, contribut-
ing to development.
The conspicuous absence of sex as a variable, contributing to
development, must be pointed out. This implies that both boys and
girls develop on equal footing; thus, the original hypothesis is rejected.
While reports from far and near, show the opposite in all conditions of
deprivation, this seeming equality experienced by the girl child in the
red light areas, is clearly a disquieting feature.
INFERENCES AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The contribution of education to development has emerged with
unequivocal importance. Together with the mothers' desire to have
educational opportunities for their children, the variable of education
paves the foundation for drawing up meaningful action.
In the light of these findings, growth centres are recommended
for bolstering the development of the target children, providing
institutional and non-institutional services. These growth centres
should aim to provide
562 Development of Children of Female Commercial Sex Workers
1. education and enlightenment;
2. training for new and better vocational skills and pursuits, so as
to kindle the spark of vocational aspiration, and restoring and
preserving the human dignity in their vocations;
3. counselling and social work to build up the security and self-
esteem of these children and also tackling of behaviour prob-
4. , counselling and sex education with emphasis on practice of
safest sex so as to shield them from the terror of HIV/AIDS;
5. counselling for legal aid of awareness of rights which would
also be available to the mothers and significant others;
6. social skills that would make them assertive and ward off
sharks and exploiters;
7. networking like-minded governmental and non-governmental
agencies at local, national and international levels;
8. inbuilt monitoring - evaluation system, so that a longitudinal
survey can be continued;
9. the use of creative and innovative educational methods, helping
the children discover the joy of learning through the use of
audio-visual and mass media;
10. nutrition, medical and health facilities.
The organisational framework should be flexible and well-
equipped, focussing on an optimum number of children receiving
day-care, initially. Functionaries, who are in charge of the pro-
grammes, should be trained, skilled and committed to the cause of
children, keeping the objectives in mind. The core functionaries such
as teachers, counsellors, health workers and attendants should be
exclusive to each centre, while the supervisor, administrator and
clinician would share their time and services among all centres. The
physical set up of the centres should be clean, healthy and conducive
The growth centres should establish rapport and visibility in the
community and society, thus translating the dream of development of
these children into reality.
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