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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Nagle, Jill (ed.) (1997): Whores and Other Feminists, New York. (Book)

Summary

Whores and Other Feminists is the first volume to examine sex work and the sex industry through the eyes of self-identified feminist sex workers – strippers, prostitutes, porn writers, producers and performers, dominatrices – and their allies. Comprising a range of voices from both within and outside the academy, this collection draws from traditional feminisms, postmodern feminism, queer theory, libertarianism, and sex radicalism. Through essay and personal narrative, the contributors liberate the exchange of sex for money from its arranged ideological marriage with sexist oppression, highlighting instead more local questions about particular sex work practices and their interface with feminist thought.

Look inside the book at Amazon 

Author: Beverley McLachlin C.J. (Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, 2013)

Citation (APA): Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, 2013 SCC 72.

Summary:

B, L and S, current or former prostitutes, brought an application seeking declarations that three provisions of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C‑46, which criminalize various activities related to prostitution, infringe their rights under s. 7 of the Charter:  s. 210 makes it an offence to keep or be in a bawdy‑house; s. 212(1)(j) prohibits living on the avails of prostitution; and, s. 213(1)(c) prohibits communicating in public for the purposes of prostitution.  They argued that these restrictions on prostitution put the safety and lives of prostitutes at risk, by preventing them from implementing certain safety measures — such as hiring security guards or “screening” potential clients — that could protect them from violence.  B, L and S also alleged that s. 213(1)(c) infringes the freedom of expression guarantee under s. 2(b) of the Charter, and that none of the provisions are saved under s. 1.

[…]

Held:  The appeals should be dismissed and the cross‑appeal allowed.  Sections 210, 212(1)(j) and 213(1)(c) of the Criminal Code are declared to be inconsistent with the Charter.  The declaration of invalidity should be suspended for one year.

[…]

The three impugned provisions, primarily concerned with preventing public nuisance as well as the exploitation of prostitutes, do not pass Charter muster: they infringe the s. 7 rights of prostitutes by depriving them of security of the person in a manner that is not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.  It is not necessary to determine whether this Court should depart from or revisit its conclusion in the Prostitution Referencethat s. 213(1)(c) does not violate s. 2(b) since it is possible to resolve this case entirely on s. 7 grounds.

[…]

The impugned laws negatively impact security of the person rights of prostitutes and thus engage s. 7.  The proper standard of causation is a flexible “sufficient causal connection” standard, as correctly adopted by the application judge.  The prohibitions all heighten the risks the applicants face in prostitution — itself a legal activity.  They do not merely impose conditions on how prostitutes operate.  They go a critical step further, by imposingdangerous conditions on prostitution; they prevent people engaged in a risky — but legal — activity from taking steps to protect themselves from the risks.  That causal connection is not negated by the actions of third‑party johns and pimps, or prostitutes’ so‑called choice to engage in prostitution.  While some prostitutes may fit the description of persons who freely choose (or at one time chose) to engage in the risky economic activity of prostitution, many prostitutes have no meaningful choice but to do so.  Moreover, it makes no difference that the conduct of pimps and johns is the immediate source of the harms suffered by prostitutes.  The violence of a john does not diminish the role of the state in making a prostitute more vulnerable to that violence.

Read the full decision here: http://scc-csc.lexum.com/decisia-scc-csc/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/13389/index.do

Crystal A Jackson (2011). Revealing contemporary constructions of femininity: Expression and sexuality in strip club legislation, Sexualities 14(3) 354–369.  DOI: 10.1177/1363460711400964

Abstract

This case study of Las Vegas strip club business laws explores the construction of feminine sexuality in legal discourse. Grounding textual analysis in contemporary sexuality theories, the article explores expression-based regulations that construct erotic dance as detrimental to social welfare and health, and other laws that normalize erotic dance labor as the sale of desire. I argue that expression-based ordinances stigmatize public displays of women’s (semi-) nude bodies and construct workers’ sexuality as potentially dangerous and uncontrollable. Alternatively, laws that classify erotic dance as labor construct femininity as fluid and work appropriate, regulating the work(er), not the erotic dancer as a person.

Scorgie, F. Vasey, K. Chersich, M. Nakato, D. Akoth, D. O. Netshivhambe, M. Chakuvinga, P. Nkomo, P. Phelister Abdalla, P. Sibanda, S.(2013) Human rights abuses and collective resilience among sex workers in four African countries: a qualitative study BMC International Health and Human Rights 9:33.  

Abstract

Background

Sex work is a criminal offence, virtually throughout Africa. This criminalisation and the intense stigma attached to the profession shapes interactions between sex workers and their clients, family, fellow community members, and societal structures such as the police and social services.

Methods

We explore the impact of violence and related human rights abuses on the lives of sex workers, and how they have responded to these conditions, as individuals and within small collectives. These analyses are based on data from 55 in-depth interviews and 12 focus group discussions with female, male and transgender sex workers in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Data were collected by sex worker outreach workers trained to conduct qualitative research among their peers.

Results

In describing their experiences of unlawful arrests and detention, violence, extortion, vilification and exclusions, participants present a picture of profound exploitation and repeated human rights violations. This situation has had an extreme impact on the physical, mental and social wellbeing of this population. Overall, the article details the multiple effects of sex work criminalisation on the everyday lives of sex workers and on their social interactions and relationships. Underlying their stories, however, are narratives of resilience and resistance. Sex workers in our study draw on their own individual survival strategies and informal forms of support and very occasionally opt to seek recourse through formal channels. They generally recognize the benefits of unified actions in assisting them to counter risks in their environment and mobilise against human rights violations, but note how the fluctuant and stigmatised nature of their profession often undermines collective action.

Conclusions

While criminal laws urgently need reform, supporting sex work self-organisation and community-building are key interim strategies for safeguarding sex workers’ human rights and improving health outcomes in these communities. If developed at sufficient scale and intensity, sex work organisations could play a critical role in reducing the present harms caused by criminalisation and stigma.

Keywords:

Sex work; Prostitution; Violence; Human rights; Resilience; Kenya; South Africa; Uganda; Zimbabwe

Gupta, Shreyas, Human Rights of Sex Workers in India: The Way Forward (July 19, 2013). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2357167 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2357167

Abstract: 

Although India has ratified several international covenants on women rights and has a constitution that expressly condemns discrimination and exploitation based on sex and gender, it has not been successful in effectively guarding and promoting the human rights of women, especially sex workers in India. This sad state of affairs is manifested by the intensity and extent of violence that exists in the sex industry, discrimination at the hands of the police and judiciary, exploitation during employment, concerns relating to health, safety and security of the sex workers and their children, presence of minors in the sex industry, issues of lack of consent and consultation, extortion and pimping, abjuration of self-determination and psychological abuse. The paper highlights the plight of sex workers in India and reflects on the challenges that are encountered by them. The existing policy framework for protection of sex workers’ rights through techniques of rescue and rehabilitation is ineffective in safeguarding their interests since it is governed by the principle that sex work is immoral. Therefore, the paper proposes an alternative hypothesis which revolves around the idea of redefining prostitution as sex work and further on, legalising and decriminalising sex work in order to protect the human rights and health of sex workers in India.

Marlese Richter, “Sex Work as a test case for African feminism”. Buwa! Sex and Health: A Journal on African Women’s Experience 2:1 (October 2012), 62.

No abstract available. Extract from introduction:

“The current law that makes sex work illegal in South Africa also makes it possible for police to bribe, extort and mistreat sex workers; increases the stigma that attaches to sex work; compounds barriers to sex worker access to health and legal services; and empowers clients to do great harm to sex workers without fearing any legal consequences.

But the question is – is the only alternative to this criminalised system, those boxes in Amsterdam where sex work is legalised?

In this article, I explore the discomfort that some feminists feel when discussing this question by looking at the current debates about definitions of sex work and the ideological work that is employed to conflate sex work with social evils like child prostitution and human trafficking. I focus on how two strands of feminism – radical feminism and sex-positive feminism – have responded to the dilemma posed by sex work. I argue that an African, sex-positive feminist perspective would provide useful entry points into making feminist sense of the scenario described above. I conclude by showing that the type of feminism one identifies with would have no impact on the feminist imperative to support the decriminalisation of sex work.”

Full text available here.

Moshoula Capous Desyllas (2013): Representations of sex workers’ needs and aspirations: A case for arts-based research, Sexualities October 2013 vol. 16 no. 7 pp. 772-787.

This article reviews the literature on sex work, highlighting ways in which women working in the sex industry are represented. The subjective experiences and voices of sex workers are seldom heard and their needs are consistently defined and represented by non-sex workers throughout history, in society and within academia. Historical representations have contributed to the stereotyping and stigmatization of sex workers. Academic research is consistently being done on sex workers instead of with them. However, arts-based methods allow for participatory, shared knowledge creation. Arts-based research also has the potential for empowerment, reaching the general public and changing negative stereotypes.