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Terms Dance and Sex Work in Indian Culture

Courtesans in India have never been called simply that – for hundreds of years they have been known under various different names, which depended on their occupation and social status. With time, the courtesan culture and the personalities of the women involved in what was supposedly courting have become confused. However, they have become confused not only with one another – these women started being viewed as sex workers, despite of the fact that sex work may not necessarily have been a part of the equation. A great example of this is Devadasis – an Islamic-influenced name would be Tawaifs, directly translated as courtesans – who were dancers performing in Indian salons and courts.

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However, they were more than just dancers – these women are reported to have been poets, singers, and even music composers, expressing their talents using the freedom that was granted to them by their profession. Even if they were simply dancers, the amount of hard work and training that went into their craft should never have left space for people to simply speak about them as entertainers. Sadly, Tawaifs have always been treated with even more condescension than that – they were only talked about as possible sex workers, or women in sexual relationships with their patrons. They have never been acknowledged as the extremely gifted artists in every field possible that they were – or as the tremendously influential public figures who have been reported to be cities’ highest tax payers.

Unfortunately, what it all seems to be leading to is that the erasure of Tawaifs’ accomplishments is simply a punishment. It is the way to scourge the women who dared to subvert the patriarchy when regularly they would not even be allowed outside of their homes. There is nothing wrong with being a sex worker – but that is not what the Tawaifs were. They were dancers, and even more than that – they were the predecessors of the modern Indian art forms and full-fledged citizens of their time. Consequently, it is not that these terms were interchangeable – it is a deliberate substitution of concepts in order to make the history seem devoid of strong and independent females. The least one can do is to continue educating themselves and others on the truth that has been concealed and be thankful for the contributions that Taiwaifs have made.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, December 10). Terms Dance and Sex Work in Indian Culture. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/terms-dance-and-sex-work-in-indian-culture/

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StudyCorgi. "Terms Dance and Sex Work in Indian Culture." December 10, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/terms-dance-and-sex-work-in-indian-culture/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Terms Dance and Sex Work in Indian Culture." December 10, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/terms-dance-and-sex-work-in-indian-culture/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Terms Dance and Sex Work in Indian Culture'. 10 December.

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