Cultural Hegemony and Victimisation of Bedia Women in Central India

Main Article Content

Usha Rana


Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci first coined the term “hegemony” and also elaborated on cultural hegemony. It is a common perception that cultural powers and organisations are hegemonic-centred, resulting in a network of invisible powers. Hegemonic power processes are an integral part of daily social and cultural practices that help to perpetuate power relations. The repercussions of hegemony can be seen in various aspects of society, such as caste, class, ethnicity, occupation, gender, tradition, etc. This paper enlightens on the gendered hegemonic cultural practice of prostitution (sex work) as a traditional institution in the Bedia community. The intensive fieldwork in Habla hamlet, a sub-village of Luhari village (village assembly) of the Bedia community in Sagar district in Madhya Pradesh, India, was conducted to reveal the hegemonic practices in the community. Forty people aged between 50 to 60 years have been interviewed for this study. Twenty females and twenty males were selected for data collection, and observations had been made in the hamlet to understand hegemony through social institutions.

Moreover, we have found that the male members are alert to the preservation of the purity and chastity of their wives but compelled their sisters and daughters, with the support of social institutions, to remain unmarried and take up prostitution (sex work). In particular, Bedias' hegemonic traditional cultural behaviour plays an essential role in the continuation of discrimination against Bedia women. Additionally, we explore the mechanism of this hegemonic power through the role of gender, patriarchy, false consciousness, emotions, power of common sense, ideology, and history, which have been responsible for the victimisation of Bedia women for a long time.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Rana, U. (2020). Cultural Hegemony and Victimisation of Bedia Women in Central India . Space and Culture, India, 8(2), 96-105.
Special Articles
Received 2020-03-03
Accepted 2020-06-18
Published 2020-08-05


Agha, E. (2015, December 27). From dance bars to school: Bedia girls on reforms path. The Times of India. Retrieved from school-Bediagirls-on-reforms-path/articleshow/50338469.cms.
Azeez, E. P. A., Toolsiram, R., & Mishra A. (2017). Rajnats of Rajasthan and the Sex Work: An Ethnographic Study, Contemporary Voice of Dalit, 9(1), 37–47. DOI: 10.1177/2455328X17689862.
Banerjee, R. P. (2014). Dowry in 21st-Century India: The Sociocultural Face of Exploitation, Trauma. Violence, & Abuse, 15(1), 34-40. DOI: 10.1177/1524838013496334.
Bhattacharyya, R. (2014). Life and times of unborn Kamla. Space and Culture, India, 2(2), 57-58. DOI: 10.20896/saci.v2i2.89.
Bhattacharyya, R. (2015). Understanding the Spatialities of Sexual Assault Against Indian Women in India. Gender, Place and Culture, 22(9), 1340-1356. DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2014.969684.
Bhattacharyya, R. (2017). What gender is, what gender does. Gender, Place & Culture, 25(3), 467-469. DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2017.1338432.
Brundage, J. A. (1976). Prostitution in the Medieval Canon Law. Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 1(4), 825-845. Retrieved Dec. 21, 2019, from
Bourdieu, P. (1991). Language and Symbolic Power. Polity Press, Cambridge.
Chakraborty, U. (1963). Condition of Bengali women: Around the second half of the 19th century. Published by Author, Calcutta.
Chakravarti, U. (2006). Everyday Lives, Everyday Histories: Beyond the Kings and Brahmanas of ‘Ancient’ India. Tulika Books, New Delhi.
Cole, N. L. (2020). What Is Cultural Hegemony. ThoughtCo. Retrieved from
Dunn, D. (1993). Gender inequality in education and employment in the scheduled castes and tribes of India. Population Research and Policy Review, 12(1), 53-70. DOI: 10.1007/BF01074509.
Devis, K. (1937). The Sociology of Prostitution. American Sociological Review, 2(5), 744-755. Retrieved Jan. 21, 2020, from
Eagleton, T. (1991). Ideology, Verso, New York.
Ericsson, L. O. (1980). Charges against Prostitution: An Attempt at a Philosophical Assessment. Ethics, 90(3), 335-366. Retrieved Jan. 15, 2020, from
Farley, M. & Barkan, H. (1998). Prostitution, Violence, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Women and Health, 27(3), 37-48. DOI: 10.1300/J013v27n03_03.
Farley, M. & Kelly, V. (2000) Prostitution: A Critical Review of the Medical and Social Sciences Literature. Women and Criminal Justice, 11(4), 29-64. DOI: 10.1300/J012v11n04_04.
Farley, M. (2004). Bad for the body, bad for the heart: Prostitution harms women even if legalized or decriminalized. Violence Against Women, 10(10), 1087-1125. DOI: 10.1177/1077801204268607.
Foucault, M. (1979). Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. Vintage Books, New York,.
Foucault, M. (1980). The history of sexuality: An introduction (vol. 1). Vintage Books, New York.
Gathia, J. (1999). Child prostitution in India. Concept Publishers, New Delhi.
Gayle, R. (1975). The Traffic in Women: Notes on the "Political Economy” of Sex. In Reiter, R. R. (Ed.), Toward an Anthropology of Women (pp. 157-210). Monthly Review Press.
Gramsci, A. (1971). Selections from the Prison Notebooks (translated and edited by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith). International Publishers, New York.
Hall, S. (1980). Race, articulation and societies structured in dominance. In Unesco, Sociological Theories: Race and Colonialism (pp. 305-345). Unesco, Paris.
Jeffries, S. (1997). The Idea of Prostitution. Spinifex Press, North Melbourne.
Kurtz, S., Surratt, H., Inciardi, I., & Kiley, M. (2004). Sex work and date violence. Violence Against Women, 10(4), 357-385. DOI: 10.1177/1077801204263199.
Lears, T. J. J. (1985). The Concept of Cultural Hegemony: Problems and Possibilities. The American Historical Review, 90(3), 567-593. DOI: 10.2307/1860957.
Lerner, G. (1986). The Origin of Prostitution in Ancient Mesopotamia. Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 11(2), 236-254. Retrieved Dec. 25, 2019, from
Lull, J. (1995). Media, Communication, and Culture: A Global Approach. Columbia University Press, New York.
Mohan, S. (2017, July 28). Childhood for sale. The Hindu Business Line. Retrieved from
Monto, M. A. (2004). Female prostitution, customers, and violence. Violence Against Women, 10(2), 160-168. DOI: 10.1177/1077801203260948.
Monto, M. A., & McRee, N. (2005). A Comparison of the Male Customers of Female Street Prostitutes with National Samples of Men. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 49(5), 505-529. DOI: 10.1177/0306624X04272975.
Mumby, D.K. & Stohl, C. (1991). Power and Discourse in Organization Studies: Absence and the Dialectic of Control. Discourse and Society. 2(3), 313-332. DOI: 10.1177/0957926591002003004.
Perkins, R. (1991). Working girls: prostitutes, their life and social control. Natl Gallery of Australia, Parkes.
Perkins, R., & Lovejoy, F. (1996). Healthy and unhealthy life styles of female brothel workers and call girls in Sydney. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 20(5), 512-516. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-842x.1996.tb01631.x.
Rana, U., Sharma, D. & Ghosh, D. (2020). Prostitution in northern Central India: an ethnographical study of Bedia community. International Journal of Anthropology and Ethnology, 4(1), 1-16. DOI: 10.1186/s41257-020-0027-5.
Raphael, J., & Shapiro, D. (2002). Sisters speak out: The lives and needs of prostituted women in Chicago. Center for Impact Research.
Raphael, J., & Shapiro, D. (2004). Violence in indoor and outdoor prostitution venues. Violence Against Women, 10(2), 126-139. DOI: 10.1177/1077801203260529.
Raymond, J. (2004). Prostitution on demand: Legalizing the buyers as sexual consumers. Violence Against Women, 10(10), 1156-1186. DOI: 10.1177/1077801204268609.
Sharma, K. (2007). The Social World of Prostitutes and Devadasis: A Study of the Social Structure and Its Politics in Early Modern India. Journal of International Women's Studies, 9(1), 297-310. Retrieved Jan. 10, 2020, from
Shingal, A. (2015). The Devadasi system: Temple Prostitution in India, UCLA Women's Law Journal, 22(1), 107-123. Retrieved Jan. 20, 2020, from
Singh, R. (2019, January 06). Madhya Pradesh tops in missing kids’ count. The Times of India. Retrieved from
Tarachand, K.C. (1991). Devadasi custom: Rural social structure and flesh markets. Reliance Publishing House, New Delhi.
TNN. (2016, December 06). 7 including minor girl rescued from prostitution. The Times of India. Retrieved from
Vauquline, P. (2015). Socialisation Process, Power Relations and Domestic Violence: Marginal Voices of Assamese Women. Space and Culture, India, 3(2), 54-71. DOI: 10.20896/saci.v3i2.155.
Verniers, C. & Vala, J. (2018). Justifying gender discrimination in the workplace: The mediating role of motherhood myths. PLoS ONE, 13(1), 1-23. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0190657.

DB Error: Unknown column 'Array' in 'where clause'