Monthly Archives: October 2013

Jamela, Joanna. An Investigation of the Incidence of Client-Perpetrated Sexual Violence Against Male Sex Workers. International Journal of Sexual Health Volume 23, Issue 1, 2011.


This article discusses exploratory research investigating the incidence and context of client-perpetrated sexual violence against male sex workers. Four different methods (Web-based surveys, tick-box questionnaires, telephone, and face-to-face interviews) were employed in this study of 50 male escorts. The qualitative data were analyzed using an adapted form of grounded theory. It was found that client-perpetrated sexual violence within male sex work appears to be uncommon. However, when sexual violence did occur the cause was a disagreement over barebacking. Escorts’ explanations for the low level of sexual violence within this sector included (1) that gay men were non-confrontational, (2) their clients led clandestine lifestyles avoiding undue attention, and (3) comparatively, female sex workers were perceived to be more vulnerable resulting in the higher level of sexual violence within the female sex work industry.

The Author

Dr. Joanna Jamel is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Kingston University, London. She has a multi-disciplinary background in Sociology, Investigative and Forensic Psychology as well as being a Criminologist. Her current research areas include the policing response to transgender issues. She has conducted previous research on male rape examining the police response to this type of sexual victimization with the assistance of Project Sapphire of the London Metropolitan Police. The findings of this research were disseminated to Project Sapphire and the Crime Academy to inform specialist police training and have also been used by West Mercia Police in this regard. She has also conducted research investigating client-perpetrated sexual violence within the commercial male sex industry, and the print media representation of male rape. Her other research interests include rape victim resistance strategies and transphobic hate crime.

Full text available here.

African Sex Worker Alliance, “’I expect to be abused and I have fear’: sex workers’ experiences of human rights violations and barriers to accessing healthcare in four African countries” (2011)


This report documents human rights violations experienced by female, male and transgender sex workers in four African countries (Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Zimbabwe), and describes barriers they face to accessing health services.

Through cross-country comparison and documenting of sub-regional trends, the study moves beyond previous often-localised descriptions of violations against sex workers in Africa. The study also fills information gaps about violations in male and transgender sex workers in this setting.

Key findings from this study include:

  • Many participants were identified as foreign or internal migrants.
  • Sexual violence, perpetrated by police and related authorities, was common.
  • Men who sell sex to women reported less police harassment, but police abuse of other male sex workers was frequent, often marked by homophobia.
  • A range of people on the fringes of the sex industry take advantage of sex work criminalisation by extorting money or sex.
  • Clients, according to female sex workers, commonly ignored their wishes or the occurrence of pain.
  • Once a sex worker’s occupation became known, they were usually despised by family and community members.
  • Many reported being ostracised by religious institutions.
  • There was an understanding that the criminalisation of sex work renders sex workers largely powerless.
  • Female sex workers also called for improved access to pap smears and female condoms.
  • Sex workers described many instances of poor treatment once health providers became aware of their work.
  • Private services were described as higher quality and as places where they would be treated with dignity and their confidentiality protected.
  • Sex workers commonly chose not to disclose their occupation when interacting with health workers.
  • Sex workers in most sites reported difficulties in accessing condoms, resorting to using expired or used condoms, or stopping work while condom shortages lasted.
  • Participants emphasised the importance of local organisations dedicated to supporting sex workers and working alongside to advocate and seek legal redress to violations.

Full text available here.

Stéphanie Wahab and Meg Panichelli: Ethical and Human Rights Issues in Coercive Interventions With Sex WorkersAffilia 2013 28: 344.

A summary is available on the website of the Best Practice Policy Project. Click here to download the article from Sage Journals (currently free of charge). Please scroll to ‘Editorial’ (third entry from the top) and click on ‘Full Text PDF’.

Haynes, Dina Francesca, “(Not) Found Chained to a Bed in a Brothel: Conceptual, Legal, and Procedural Failures to Fulfill the Promise of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act”. Georgetown Immigration Law Journal. Available at SSRN:


The article outlines the myriad problems that need be addressed to carry out the promise of the Trafficking Victim Protection Act. In the year 2000, Congress proudly signed into law the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), with two goals in mind – protecting victims of human trafficking and prosecuting their traffickers. Yet years after the passage of the TVPA, trafficking victims found in the United States are still too often treated like criminals by those charged with protecting them. Victims are charged for immigration-related offenses, deported at the borders for attempting to enter with documents traffickers have foisted upon them, arrested and detained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and prosecuted by Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys. DHS inspection officers fail to observe that they are questioning victims of human trafficking, even when clear signals are given by victims in fear of their lives. Victims are held in detention for months and sometimes years by the DHS at considerable taxpayer expense, and judges are unclear why trafficking is a human rights offense tantamount to slavery. In short, government personnel charged with protecting victims of human trafficking and prosecuting their traffickers, particularly outside of task forces headquartered in Washington, D.C., have little or no understanding of the obligations the nation undertook in passing the TVPA and, in consequence, U.S. personnel are working contrary to the purposes of the Act.

The article suggests where procedurally and as a matter of policy, the government has gone wrong, employing a case study as a device to point to the particular problems of trafficking victims in accessing the law. It presents the approach the United States has taken to combating human trafficking and details the meta-problems that continue to undermine its effectiveness. It sets forth the ways in which the root causes of trafficking have been obscured, in service to a preferred focus on sex and victimhood. It reviews the misapplication of the law both by those tasked to interpret it, and by politicians who have tacked their own political agendas onto anti-trafficking initiatives, leading the nation away from a hardnosed and honest look at the problems of causation in trafficking, and discussed the distortions that result from the issue conflation. The article presents an alternate view of trafficking, which involves reframing the trafficking issue through the lens of migration, and which would require U.S. government personnel to approach trafficking with the understanding that being victimized by traffickers and yet still demonstrating personal agency are not only not mutually exclusive, but tantamount to surviving the crime.

Full text available here.

Weitzer, Ronald. The Social Ecology of Red-Light Districts: A Comparison of Antwerp and Brussels. Urban Affairs Review (Published online before print October 9, 2013)


Research on modern red-light districts (RLDs) is deficient in some key respects. Centered largely on street prostitution zones and nations where prostitution is illegal, this literature gives insufficient attention to settings where RLDs consist of a cluster of indoor venues that are legal and regulated by the authorities. Using classic Chicago School research on vice districts as a point of departure, this article examines the physical structure and social organization of red-light zones in two Belgian cities: Antwerp and Brussels. The comparative analysis identifies major differences in the social ecology of the two settings. Differences are explained by the distinctive ways in which each municipal government manages its respective RLD, which are related to the contrasting social backgrounds and political capital of the population residing in the vicinity of each district. Policy implications are briefly discussed.

The Author

Ronald Weitzer is a professor of sociology at George Washington University. He has published extensively on sex work and is the editor of Sex for Sale: Prostitution, Pornography, and the Sex Industry (Routledge, 2010) and author of Legalizing Prostitution: From Illicit Vice to Lawful Business (New York University Press, 2012).

Full PDF available via (free if you sign up) or Sage Journals

Nakaweesi-Kimbugwe, Solome; with Chigudu, Hope. “The LGBTIQ and sex worker movements in East Africa”. BRIDGE, Institute of Development Studies (April 2013)


The LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex and Queer) and sex worker movements in East Africa are movements of minorities struggling with many issues: identity, marginalisation, denial of citizenship, invisibility, discrimination, human dignity and oppression, at the same time as dealing with contentious issues within and between movements that can make it difficult to forge common interests, goals and strategies. In this case study we consider the background and development of the movements, the connections between them, and their strategies, tactics and agendas. We discuss key achievements of the movements and the challenges that remain, and we ask what lessons can be learnt about inclusive movement building for social justice and human rights.

Full report available here

Shrage, Laura (2005): Exposing the fallacies of anti-porn feminism, in: Feminist Theory 6(1), pp. 45-65.


This paper examines an issue at the centre of feminist debates about pornography and sex work, and that is whether these practices reduce women to sex objects. I question the assumption that the expression of sexual desire is unique in its power to degrade and dehumanize persons. I show that this assumption underlies Catharine MacKinnon’s attack on pornography by considering MacKinnon’s intellectual debt to the philosopher Immanuel Kant. I then examinerecent discussions of sexual objectification in the philosophical literature and argue that MacKinnon’s adaptation of Kant has flaws comparable to Kant’s original account of sexual desire.

Hoefinger, Heidi. 2010. Negotiating Intimacy: Transactional Sex and Relationships Among Cambodian Professional Girlfriends. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London. [Thesis]

Full thesis available here.

This research focuses on the transactional nature of sexual and non-sexual relationships between certain young women in Cambodia described as ‘professional girlfriends’, and their ‘western boyfriends’. In this case, the term ‘transactional’ refers to the initial material motivation behind their interactions. While the majority of women are employed as bartenders or waitresses in tourist areas of Phnom Penh, outside observers tend to erroneously label them as ‘prostitutes’ or ‘broken women’ because of the gift-based nature of the intimate exchanges. Ethnographic evidence demonstrates, however, that they make up a diverse and nuanced group of individuals who engage in relationships more complex than simply ‘sex-for-cash’ exchanges, and often seek marriage and love in addition to material comforts. Though they do not view themselves as ‘prostitutes’, the distinction of the term ‘professional’ is used to emphasize that 1) they do rely on the formation of these relationships as a means of livelihood and their motivations are initially materially-based; 2) they engage in multiple overlapping transactional relationships, usually unbeknownst to their other partners; 3) there is a performance of intimacy, whereby the professed feelings of love and dedication lie somewhere on a continuum between genuine and feigned, and where the term ‘love’ itself carries multiple meanings.

The research further reveals not only the stereotypes, contradictions, and structural constraints experienced by these young women, but also their entrepreneurialism, determination and creativity. Despite trauma related to recent political past, sexual violence, stigma, depression and self-harming, they use tools of global feminine youth culture, consumption, linguistic ability, ‘bar girl’ subculture, and interpersonal relationships to make socioeconomic advancements and find enjoyment in their lives. The practice of ‘intimate ethnography’ also illuminates the negotiation of intimacy and friendship between the participants and researcher, as well as the general materiality and exchange of everyday sex and relationships around the globe.

Interview on Huffington Post “Everything You Think You Know About Cambodian Sex Workers Is Wrong

Kate Cooper/Sue Branford (2013): Exploitation And Trafficking Of Women: Critiquing Narratives During The London Olympics.

Full report available here.

Exploitation and Trafficking of Women: Critiquing narratives during the London Olympics’ has been commissioned to inform CAWN’s work around the role of civil society and the media in shaping public understanding of the different forms of exploitation experienced by women, in particular migrant
women, in the context of major sporting events. The study draws up recommendations based on the experience of the London Olympics that can be applied to other forthcoming major sporting events. Trafficking and exploitation of migrant women, it argues, is a global problem requiring a
global response. Policies and actions to address this problem should be guided by the findings of evidence-based research exploring the impact of global trade agreements, structural adjustment and austerity measures, and the labour practices of transnational corporations on women’s economic rights, migration patterns and trafficking of women.

Hila Shamir, “A Labor Paradigm for Human Trafficking” (November 6, 2012). UCLA Law Review, Vol. 60, No. 1, 2012.


Although human trafficking has gained unprecedented national and international attention and condemnation over the past decade, the legal instruments developed to combat this phenomenon have thus far proved insufficient. In particular, current efforts help an alarmingly small number of individuals out of the multitudes currently understood as falling under the category of trafficked persons, and even in these few cases, the assistance provided is of questionable value. This Article thus calls for a paradigm shift in anti-trafficking policy: a move away from the currently predominant human rights approach to trafficking and the adoption of a labor approach that targets the structure of labor markets prone to severely exploitative labor practices. This labor paradigm, the Article contends, offers more effective strategies for combating trafficking. After establishing the case for the labor paradigm, the Article suggests how it can be incorporated into existing anti-trafficking regimes. The Article proposes five measures for implementing anti-trafficking policies grounded on the labor approach: prevent the criminalization and deportation of workers who report exploitation; eliminate binding arrangements; reduce recruitment fees and the power of middlemen; guarantee the right to unionize; and extend and enforce the application of labor and employment laws to vulnerable workers. Finally, the Article analyzes why this paradigm has yet to be adopted and responds to some of the main objections to a paradigm shift.

Full text available here.