Monthly Archives: June 2013

Chris Bruckert and Tuulia Law: Beyond Pimps, Procurers and Parasites: Mapping Third Parties in the Incall/Outcall Sex Industry (2013) Rethinking Management in the Adult and Sex Industry Project, Ottawa.

Media release:

OTTAWA, April 17, 2013  —  Researchers from the University of Ottawa have released the findings of a three-year study on “third parties” in the adult and sex industries, including their role in sex worker safety. Findings confirm that the current prostitution laws, often presented as protecting sex workers, work against their interests and increase sex workers’ vulnerability to violence, by targeting these third parties.

The study, Rethinking Management in the Adult and Sex Industry, was led by Christine Bruckert, uOttawa criminology professor, in partnership with the Université du Québec à Montréal and the University of New Brunswick. It involved a total of 122 interviews in four regions (southern and central Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes) seeking to shed light on the sex industry. The report, Beyond Pimps, Procures and Parasites: Mapping Third Parties in the Incall/Outcall Sex Industry, draws on interviews with 50 third parties and 27 sex workers, who work in escort agencies, massage parlours and brothels.

“We hope that our findings might bring attention to the unintended consequences of prostitution laws, especially since the Supreme Court of Canada will be addressing the constitutionality of Canada’s prostitution laws, including those that criminalize living on the avails of prostitution, in a hearing on June 12,” said Professor Bruckert.

The research findings challenge many of the stereotypes about the third parties involved in commercial sex transactions, who facilitate, organize, supervise and control the work of sex workers.

Contrary to popular belief, the working relationships and the relations of power between sex workers and third parties are variable: some sex workers are hired by agencies, others work in collaboration with associates and some are contractors hired by sex workers. Third parties fulfill a wide range of roles; they work as personal assistants, drivers, security staff, web designers, agents, event planners, location providers, mentors, receptionists and managers. Moreover the distinction between third parties and sex workers is far from clear-cut; many of the male, female and trans third parties interviewed had sex work experience. Sex workers themselves are vulnerable to being charged as third parties.

The research also looks at sex workers’ safety. According to sex workers, third parties provide useful and important services that increase their safety, security and wellbeing.  In contrast, criminalization undermines sex workers security in a multitude of ways, by preventing clear communication with clients, encouraging wilful blindness on the part of third parties, creating more pressure to satisfy clients and excluding sex workers from protective labour legislation.

The research was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).


Néomie Duval
International Media Relations Officer
University of Ottawa
Office: 613-562-5800 (2981)
Cell.: 613-863-7221

Sharma, Nadita (2003): Travel Agency: A Critique of Anti-Trafficking Campaigns, in: Refuge. Vol 21, No 3 (2003).

Full article available here.

This paper offers a critical evaluation of anti-trafficking campaigns spearheaded by some in the feminist movement in an attempt to deal with the issues of unsafe migrations and labour exploitation. I discuss how calls to “end trafficking, especially in women and children” are influenced by – and go on to legitimate – governmental practices to criminalize the self-willed migration of people moving without official permission. I discuss how the ideological frame of anti-trafficking works to reinforce restrictive immigration practices, shore up a nationalized consciousness of space and home, and criminalize those rendered illegal within national territories. Anti-trafficking campaigns also fail to take into account migrants’ limited agency in the migration process. I provide alternative routes to anti-trafficking campaigns by arguing for an analytical framework in which the related worldwide crises of displacement and migration are foregrounded. I argue that by centering the standpoint of undocumented migrants a more transformative politics emerges, one that demands that people be able to “stay” and to “move” in a self-determined manner.

Andrijasevic, Rutvica and Anderson, Bridget (2009). Anti-trafficking campaigns: decent? honest? truthful?, in: Feminist Review, 92(1), pp. 151–156

Full article available here

A passenger arriving at London airports and passing the immigration check is greeted by anti-trafficking posters that tell the story of deceit and forced prostitution and call on
passengers to seek help from the immigration officers in case they have been brought into
the UK against their will. Once in the UK, one is confronted with similar campaigns but
this time of a slightly different message; a campaign such as Blue Blindfolds calls on the
general public across the UK to share any suspicions or information on cases of
trafficking with the police or the Home Office.
During the last decade, anti-trafficking information campaigns have played a prominent part in anti-trafficking policies  throughout Europe. They have for the most part been launched in migrants’ counties of origin with the idea of warning migrants about the dangers of irregular migration.
Scholars have taken interest in those campaigns and argued that despite the best
intentions, those campaigns aim at reducing irregular migration, encourage women to
stay at home, promote stereotypes about ‘eastern’ European societies as patriarchal and
crime-ridden and of women as naïve victims (Nieuwenhuys and Pécoud, 2007; Sharma,
2003). Feminist scholars have moreover put into question the category of a ‘victim’,
critiqued a slippage between ‘illegal immigration’, ‘forced prostitution’, and ‘trafficking’,
and argued that these conflations divert attention from the role of the state (O’Connell
Davidson, 2006).

Richter, Marliese (2013): Characteristics, sexual behaviour and access to health care services for sex workers in South Africa and Kenya (PhD dissertation; Available here)

Across the globe, many people make a living from supplying sexual services for reward. This
is in spite of the heavy tolls that sexual moralism, religious fervour, criminalisation, harsh health
services and abusive security services extract from them; sex work is hard and the dangers
numerous. Many women, men and transgender people in Sub-Saharan Africa have few or no
other choices available to earn an income, while others weigh up the risks and benefits of sex
work, and decide that that the risks are worth it in the short- and/or long-term.
Of the various hazards that sex workers face, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and
other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have been a major focus of health research and
concern. Frustratingly, little of the knowledge generated about what is effective and necessary
to make sex work and sex workers safer, has been translated into practice, or brought to
sufficient scale. Evidence indicating the need for the decriminalisation of sex work has not
transformed the much outdated legal and policy landscape associated with the criminalisation of
sex work that is characteristic of most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Despite a growing body
of evidence and improved programmatic responses to sex work, the political will, the necessary
funding and the urgency needed to implement an effective response to the context of sex work
in Sub-Saharan Africa are mostly absent. It is hoped that, as the voices of sex workers and sex
worker advocates become stronger and as sex workers are supported to engage with policy
makers, law enforcement agencies, and health service providers, the changes needed to make
sex work safer will be made.

Marlene Spanger (2013): Doing Love in the Borderland of Transnational Sex
Work: Female Thai Migrants in Denmark, NORA – Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research,
21:2, 92-107

By bringing love to the fore as an unfixed category, this article analyses the highly complex lives of female Thai migrants who sell sex in Denmark. In doing so, the article challenges the static and rather normative binary categories of “sex work” versus “prostitution” and “empowered woman” versus “victim of human trafficking” that are produced in the literature on sex work and prostitution. This binary approach is likely to portray the lives and subject positions of female migrants who sell sex in a rather one-sided way. The article argues that the category of love is highly relevant in studies of transnational sex work if we want to grasp the complexity of the lives of female migrants who sell sexual services.

An evolving trade? Male sex work and the internet

Author: Andrew McLean
Academic Thesis, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies (Australia)
Abstract: This investigation into the online male sex trade in Melbourne explores the Internet’s rise in popularity as a marketplace for male sex workers (MSWs). It examines the ways in which clients and workers engage with the Internet, as well as the effect(s) of this new domain upon workers and their professional encounters. The study finds that engaging in sex work is a common experience for young, attractive gay men, with many opting to offer their services (illegally) online in favour of more traditional sites (e.g. street, brothel/agency and print) due to a number of perceived advantages – such as anonymity, convenience and greater economic rewards. In turn, clients of MSWs also prefer to use the Internet for reasons pertaining to privacy and convenience. The marketing strategies employed by MSWs widely exploit stereotypes associated with (gay) masculinity in a market where visual representations of sexuality are of paramount importance. The study examines workers‟ perceptions of success. Many associate long-term success in the industry with an ability to self-monitor, allowing for the maintenance of a wealthy client base. Finally, the study investigates the key legislative and social issues that may complicate the working and personal lives of Internet-based male sex workers (IMSWs).Read full paper here.

Sharvari Karandikar and Lindsay B. Gezinski (2012): ‘Without Us, Sex Workers will Die Like Weeds’: Sex Work and Client Violence in Kamathipur, in: Indian Journal of Gender Studies October 2012 vol. 19 no. 3 351-371

This study explores male clients’ perceptions of gender-based violence against female sex workers of the Kamathipura red-light area in Mumbai, India. In-depth interviewing methods were used to collect data from 13 male clients. Three critical themes were identified: (1) male role transitioning from client to intimate partner to pimp; (2) male validation and rationalisation of sex work as a profession; and (3)patriarchal male perceptions resulting in violence against sex workers. Respondents emphasised the importance of legalising sex work so that women from ‘good’ families would not be raped. Respondents also admitted to using physical violence against sex workers on a regular basis. The findings of this study indicate the urgent need for gender sensitisation workshops for male intimate partners to break patriarchal values. Inclusion of males in community-based interventions to combat violence is also highly recommended.

Gopal, Meena (2013): Sexuality and Social Reproduction: Reflections from an Indian Feminist Debate, in: Indian Journal of Gender Studies June 2013 vol. 20 no. 2 235-251

This article tries in a preliminary manner to establish links between sexual labour, the negotiations of everyday life and the reproduction of social relations. The context for this interrogation is the recent ban in 2005 on dancing in beer bars in the Indian city of Mumbai; the attempts by the state to legitimise its action amidst a range of national and international rhetoric on sexual labour, and the voices of women who were disenfranchised due to the state ban. Women’s interrogation of their role in sexual labour and their struggle for dignity and respect in the domain of work is discussed in the light of the negative discourse weighing against them, while also bringing in historical and contemporary accounts of other forms of ‘stigmatised’ labour. The attempt is to understand how notions of dignity and respectability are intertwined with shifts in gender, caste, class locations and the struggles of social movements. Significant in this discussion are various examples of how women choose to ‘move away’ in their constant search for livelihoods and survival. The article is an attempt to illuminate how an expanded notion of social reproduction could recognise labours of different kinds with the voices of those embodying these labours having a say in how justice and entitlements should devolve.

Kelly Karvelis,The Asylum Claim for Victims of Attempted Trafficking, 8 Nw.J. L. & Soc.Pol’y. 274 (2012).
Full paper available here:
The state of the law regarding refugees in the United States has been
characterized in the recent past by inconsistent rulings among the Circuit Courts, and
narrow applications of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which provides the
basis for asylum eligibility. In the midst of this sometimes-contradictory application of
the INA, victims of attempted sex trafficking (those who have faced threats or attempts by
sex traffickers to force them into sexual slavery) have consistently been rejected for
asylum by U.S. courts. Federal courts have uniformly denied these asylum claims by
ruling that these victims do not meet the INA’s requirement that refugees fall into a
particular social group. Therefore, this Comment focuses largely on the argument that
U.S. courts have interpreted the “social group” provision in an unduly narrow fashion,
and that victims of attempted trafficking do indeed satisfy this element of the INA’s test
for asylum eligibility. This Comment argues that U.S. courts’ rejections of these asylum
claims are inconsistent with the legislative intent behind the Immigration and Nationality
Act of 1952, federal case law that has granted asylum petitions in similar contexts, and
the United Nations’ and international interpretations of refugee law. Based on these
reasons and public policy concerns, U.S. courts should recognize the valid claims of
many of these victims of attempted trafficking, and grant them the asylum that they

Cheryl Overs, Bebe Loff (2013): Toward a legal framework that promotes and protects sex workers’ health and human rights, in: Health and Human Rights, Vo. 15(1).
Full article available.

Complex combinations of law, policy, and enforcement practices determine sex
workers vulnerability to HIV and rights abuses. We identify “lack of recognition
as a person before the law” as an important but undocumented barrier to accessing
services and conclude that multi-faceted, setting-specific reform is needed—rather
than a singular focus on decriminalization—if the health and human rights of sex
workers are to be realized.