Organizations working on behalf of prostitutes: An analysis of goals, practices, and strategies

Oselin, Sharon S./Weitzer, Ronald (2013): Organizations working on behalf of prostitutes: An analysis of goals, practices, and strategies, in: Sexualities, 16(3-4), pp. 445-466. 


Views on female prostitution are diverse and often hotly contested, both inside and outside academic circles. Some contend that prostitutes are universally exploited, while others argue that they are workers and should be recognized as such. Yet there is little analysis of the role that service-providing organizations play in this larger debate. This article examines programs that offer direct services to prostitutes–which we call prostitute-serving organizations (PSOs)–in order to document both the kinds of services they provide and to assess whether they engage in efforts to change larger social or legal arrangements that impact their constituents. The article draws on data from multiple sources, including the website content of 37 PSOs, 21 in-depth interviews with PSO staff members, and published secondary sources. The organizations are categorized in terms of their core perspective on sex work, which we link to one of the three main theoretical paradigms in the sex-work literature. We distinguish the different types of organizations, describe how their ideological stance impacts their goals, identify their main actions as service and/or advocacy, and suggest factors that account for these practices.


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