Since the late 1990s, many countries have been debating what prostitution policies to apply, and, particularly in Europe, several have changed the overall approach to the phenomenon and the people involved. Prostitution is more than ever before firmly placed on policy agendas as a topic related to gender equality and globalization. Furthermore, it is seen in context with issues relating to organized crime, health, and gentrification. In both policy debates and the academic discourse, particular ways of regulating prostitution are treated as models and a central discussion is which model among these works best. In this article, I argue that this search for a best practice of prostitution policy that can be transferred to and work similarly in a new jurisdiction builds on a lack of understanding of the importance of context and implementation. How policies work depends on, among other factors, aims, implementation structures, and characteristics of local prostitution markets. But I present a broad spectrum of research to clarify what should be taken into consideration when assessing policies’ abilities to achieve diverse goals. I argue that a fundamental problem in both prostitution policy debates and scholarship is that the arguments over prostitution policies have become too detached from the many and differing contexts in which these policies operate and I propose a way forward for resear
This article explores the understudied and undertheorized role that fiscal policies play in shaping the relationship between the state and sex workers. It highlights the importance of looking at tax policy and its implementation to understand how inequality is reinforced against sexually marginalized populations. Drawing on the Italian case, it explores the ways in which ambiguous taxation arrangements operate to penalize sex workers, excluding them from the status of full taxpayer citizenship, and demonizing them as individuals who exploit the fiscal system at the expense of “good” tax-paying citizens. Fiscal policies, I argue, need to be considered in the context of the governance of prostitution as social mechanisms that have the potential to contribute to the sexual and economic citizenship of this marginalized population, but which, when unequal and ambiguous, reinforce the social and political liminality of sex workers as lesser citizens, and add to the stigma, damaging stereotypes and violence already waged against them. The complex ways in which inequality against sex workers is maintained is revealed as a dynamic process that reflects the ever-shifting interplay of economics and morality.
What does it mean to be an African sex worker feminist? In answering this question this essay draws from two qualitative studies with two African sex worker groups in 2014 and 2015—the South African movement of sex workers called Sisonke, and the African Sex Worker Alliance (ASWA). Although participants were initially reluctant to give a precise definition, many pointed to elements that could constitute such an identity. Based on their embodied lived experiences, each participant illustrated and described what it meant for them to be an African, a sex worker, and a feminist, and then collectively discussed these in relation to each other and the social dimensions they occupy. Even though these three identities may seem incongruent, in certain embodiments they actually inform each other. The aim of this work is for all feminists to recognize each other as comrades in the struggle for gender and sexual liberation, thus strengthening solidarity across social justice movements.
This research used a semi-structured interview method and Smith and Osborn’s (2003) interpretive phenomenological analysis to investigate a female prostitute’s experiences of stigma associated with her work. To structure the interview schedule, Seidman’s (2006) in-depth phenomenologically based interviewing method, which comprises three areas of focus, “focused life history,” “details of the experience” under investigation, and “reflection of the meaning” of the experience, was used as a general guide. Ten broad psychological themes were identified: 1) awareness of engaging in what people think is bad; (2) negative labeling by people who discover she is a prostitute; 3) hiding and lying about her identity as a prostitute to avoid being labeled negatively; 4) hiding and lying about her prostitution identity result in stress, anxiety, and exhaustion; 5) wishing she did not have to hide and lie about being a prostitute; 6) questioning and objecting to the stigmatization of prostitution; 7) managing the sense of stigmatization by persons who know about her prostitution by shifting focus away from devaluing and toward valuable qualities of prostitution; 8) developing occupational esteem and self-esteem through reflection of values; 9) compassion towards other people who suffer from stigma; and 10) resiliency.
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Foley, Ellen E. „“The Prostitution Problem”: Insights from Senegal“. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 14. Dezember 2018. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-018-1368-3.
While the scholarship on sex work is substantial, it neglects to explore whether sex work and associated stigma affect sex workers’ cognitive expectations. Drawing on observations of street-based sex work as well as in-depth interviews with Jewish-Israeli sex workers, this study suggests that because stigma is a moral experience that threatens and often destroys what really matters to stigmatised individuals, it leads to recurrent disappointments, which, in turn, may alter sex workers’ cognitive expectations. Sex workers learn to see certain life goals, including maintaining healthy social relationships and a workspace free of violence and humiliation, as unobtainable. However, they also begin to see other aspects of their lives, such as economic autonomy, as achievable through sex work. Tracing how whore stigma becomes a transformative experience allows us to add another layer to the heretofore suggested link between the structural, cultural and individual aspects of stigmatisation.
Platt L, Grenfell P, Meiksin R, Elmes J, Sherman SG, Sanders T, et al. (2018) Associations between sex work laws and sex workers’ health: A systematic review and meta-analysis of quantitative and qualitative studies. PLoS Med 15(12): e1002680. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002680
Sex workers are at disproportionate risk of violence and sexual and emotional ill health, harms that have been linked to the criminalisation of sex work. We synthesised evidence on the extent to which sex work laws and policing practices affect sex workers’ safety, health, and access to services, and the pathways through which these effects occur.
Methods and findings
We searched bibliographic databases between 1 January 1990 and 9 May 2018 for qualitative and quantitative research involving sex workers of all genders and terms relating to legislation, police, and health. We operationalised categories of lawful and unlawful police repression of sex workers or their clients, including criminal and administrative penalties. We included quantitative studies that measured associations between policing and outcomes of violence, health, and access to services, and qualitative studies that explored related pathways. We conducted a meta-analysis to estimate the average effect of experiencing sexual/physical violence, HIV or sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and condomless sex, among individuals exposed to repressive policing compared to those unexposed. Qualitative studies were synthesised iteratively, inductively, and thematically. We reviewed 40 quantitative and 94 qualitative studies. Repressive policing of sex workers was associated with increased risk of sexual/physical violence from clients or other parties (odds ratio [OR] 2.99, 95% CI 1.96–4.57), HIV/STI (OR 1.87, 95% CI 1.60–2.19), and condomless sex (OR 1.42, 95% CI 1.03–1.94). The qualitative synthesis identified diverse forms of police violence and abuses of power, including arbitrary arrest, bribery and extortion, physical and sexual violence, failure to provide access to justice, and forced HIV testing. It showed that in contexts of criminalisation, the threat and enactment of police harassment and arrest of sex workers or their clients displaced sex workers into isolated work locations, disrupting peer support networks and service access, and limiting risk reduction opportunities. It discouraged sex workers from carrying condoms and exacerbated existing inequalities experienced by transgender, migrant, and drug-using sex workers. Evidence from decriminalised settings suggests that sex workers in these settings have greater negotiating power with clients and better access to justice. Quantitative findings were limited by high heterogeneity in the meta-analysis for some outcomes and insufficient data to conduct meta-analyses for others, as well as variable sample size and study quality. Few studies reported whether arrest was related to sex work or another offence, limiting our ability to assess the associations between sex work criminalisation and outcomes relative to other penalties or abuses of police power, and all studies were observational, prohibiting any causal inference. Few studies included trans- and cisgender male sex workers, and little evidence related to emotional health and access to healthcare beyond HIV/STI testing.
Together, the qualitative and quantitative evidence demonstrate the extensive harms associated with criminalisation of sex work, including laws and enforcement targeting the sale and purchase of sex, and activities relating to sex work organisation. There is an urgent need to reform sex-work-related laws and institutional practices so as to reduce harms and barriers to the realisation of health.