Our artisans come from poor and marginalized segments of Indian society (i.e., slum communities, red light districts, or “lower” castes). The majority of them never finished elementary or high school. The average grade for drop-out of our recent group was second grade. Most of our artisans marriages were arranged by their families; while the average age of an artisan’s first pregnancy is seventeen. It is typical for our artisans to have three or four children.
Their husbands work in low paying professions (e.g., laborers, construction workers, painters), which makes paying for their children’s education and healthcare extremely challenging. It is not surprising that our artisans have turned to commercial sex work in order to make ends meet. Interviews with our artisans reveal that many of them began when they were quite young, in order to support their families. Some of them were introduced into the trade by their mothers or other family and community members. Enrolling in our artisan program demonstrates their desire to turn a new page and earn income through other means.