J Kumar (not his real name), a male sex worker for 14 years in Kottayam, said: “Certainly things are much better now than when I began.
“I got into this when as a teenager and I have not looked back. We are a group of a dozen males and have certain places where we get our customers in the heart of Kottayam,” Kumar said.
The number of male sex workers in the state has increased, said S.K. Hari, the team leader of the Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust, which is a project support unit of the Kerala State AIDS Control Society.
“I have studied the community for the past decade. Certainly, there is a remarkable turnaround in the activities and their well being,” he added.
“What we are interested in is the health aspect. We hold routine classes for the safe workers and advise them on safe sex,” added Hari.
Another male sex worker confided that the style of activities has also changed.
“When I began it was a different ball game and now we are happy that the pleasure level of our activity has gone up. Now we too use condoms and jellies. Almost all in the trade now enjoy oral sex and anal sex too,” added one who wished to remain anonymous.
Close to 80 per cent of the male sex workers in 53 groups surveyed by Hari and his team hail from the lower middle class society and do it for money.
“Being a male-to-male activity, we do not have much of a problem compared to female commercial sex workers,” said Kumar.
The clients come from all socio-economic levels of the state’s population and are aged between 17 and 62 years.
Hari’s studies classify the sex workers into various types.
“One group is made of those who are happy being a sex worker and their only problem is that they feel that the social environment is still not favourable, while some constantly ask themselves why they are into this,” said Hari.
Hari’s studies also claim that there was a higher level of emotional satisfaction among the male sex workers.
“Among female sex workers very few regular clients have any emotional attachment,” said he.