Monthly Archives: January 2014

Kontula, Anna (2008): The Sex Worker and Her Pleasure, in: Current Sociology July 2008 vol. 56 no. 4, pp. 605-620.


The stereotypical view of prostitution is based on the idea that sex work destroys the woman’s capability for sexual pleasure and alienates her from her sexuality. The author argues that the idea of the destructive capacity of sex work is not universally obvious. Sex workers interviewed seem to derive sexual pleasure in both commercial and private relationships. Professional sex work can be perceived as a distancing from the prostitute’s own enjoyment but it can also be a channel to a more emancipated and pleasurable sex life.


Doezema, Jo (2001): Ouch! Western Feminists’ ‘Wounded Attachment’ to the ‘Third World Prostitute’, Feminist Review [serial online]. Spring 2001;67(67):16-38.

Article available here. (PDF) or here (HTML)

The subject of ‘trafficking in women’ has, since the mid 1980s, received increased international attention. Currently, negotiations are underway at the UN Crimes Commission in Vienna around a new international agreement on trafficking in women (Draft Protocol To Combat International Trafficking In Women And Children Supplementary To The Draft Convention On Transnational Organized CrimeA/AC.254/4/add.3). This new agreement has been the subject of lobbying by feminist anti-trafficking NGOs. The lobby efforts are split into two ‘camps’. One, the Human Rights Caucus, sees prostitution as legitimate labour. The other, represented by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), sees all prostitution as a violation of women’s human rights. While there are some similarities in their representations of the ‘third world trafficking victim’, CATW in particular views ‘third world prostitutes’ as helpless victims in need of rescue. This paper analyses CATW’s position and the writings of its founder, Kathleen Barry. It suggests that CATW’s construction of ‘third world prostitutes’ is part of a wider western feminist impulse to construct a damaged ‘other’ as the main justification for its own interventionist impulses.

The central argument of this paper is that the ‘injured body’ of the ‘third world trafficking victim’ in international feminist debates around trafficking in women serves as a powerful metaphor for advancing certain feminist interests, which cannot be assumed to be those of third world sex workers themselves. The term ‘injured body’ is drawn from Wendy Brown’s States of Injury: Power and Freedom in Late Modernity (1995). In this work, Brown argues that modern identity politics are based on a feeling of ‘injury’ caused by exclusion from the presumed ‘goods’ of the modern liberal state.

Author: Vancouver Police Department (assisted by WISH, Pivot, BC Coalition of Experiential Communities, PEERS, PACE)

Citation (APA): Vancouver Police Department (n.d.). Sex Work Enforcement Guidelines. Retrieved from


The VPD has engaged in a variety of strategies to reduce crime and improve the safety of all
Vancouver residents. However, these strategies can sometimes come into conflict with each
other. For example, enforcement action is sometimes at odds with relationship building, though
both are necessary as part of a comprehensive approach to policing. These conflicts are
particularly frequent when dealing with individuals involved in the sex industry as a result of
inconsistent public attitudes, community complaints, and messaging from the courts on sex
industry related cases. For example, indiscriminate enforcement of the prostitution laws can
undermine sex workers’ relationships with police and decrease their ability to reach out to police
for help.

As a police agency, the VPD is obligated to enforce the laws of Canada, although police also
have considerable discretion in deciding when and how to enforce laws. Given that some
sections of the Criminal Code related to the sex industry are the subject of several constitutional
challenges, the VPD recognizes that these guidelines may need to be amended when the courts
issue their rulings.



When responding to sex work-related calls or situations, the Vancouver Police
Department’s priority is to ensure the safety and security of sex workers. Police calls
regarding violence against sex workers are a priority for assessment and response. Read More

Mathieu, Lilian (2003): The Emergence and Uncertain Outcomes of Prostitutes’ Social Movements, in: The European Journal of Women’s Studies, 10(1), S. 29–50.

Full article


This article is a comparative study of five prostitutes’ social movements. The emergence of these movements is one of the major developments in the politics of prostitution: for the first time, prostitutes are politically organizing and expressing their claims and grievances in the public debate about prostitution – a debate from which they are usually excluded. But, as is the case for most stigmatized populations, this pretension to enter into the public debate is faced with many difficulties. Some of these are inherent to the world of prostitution, which is an informal, competitive and violent world, in which leaders face constant challenges to establish and maintain their authority and legitimacy. The article also emphasizes the crucial, but ambiguous, role played by alliances between prostitutes and people from other parts of society (especially feminists). Prostitutes’ dependence on these supporters leads the author to consider their social movements to be heteronomous mobilizations.

Minichiello, Victor/Scott, John/Callander,
Denton (2013): New Pleasures and Old Dangers: Reinventing Male Sex
Work, in: Journal of Sex Research, 50(3-4), pp.



of male sex workers (MSWs) shift with technological,
conceptual, and social changes. Research has historically
constructed MSWs as psychologically unstable, desperate, or
destitute victims and their clients as socially deviant perverts.
These perceptions, however, are no longer supported by contemporary
research and changing societal perceptions of
the sex industry, challenging how we understand and
describe “escorts.” The changing understandings of sexuality and
the increasing power of the Internet are both important forces
behind recent changes in the structure and organization of MSWs.
The growth in the visibility and reach of escorts has created
opportunities to form an occupational account of MSWs that better
accounts for the dynamic and diverse nature of the MSW experience
in the early 21st century. Recent changes in the structure and
organization of male sex work have provided
visibility to the increasingly diverse geographical distribution of
MSW, the commodification of race and racialized desire, new
populations of heterosexual men and women as clients, and the
successful dissemination of safer sexual messages to MSWs through
online channels. This article provides a broad overview of the
literature on MSWs, concentrating its focus on studies that have
emerged over the past 20 years and identifying areas for future

Venkatesh, Sudhir (2013): Underground Markets as Fields in Transition: Sex Work in New York City, Sociological Forum, Volume 28, Issue 4, pages 682–699, December 2013


Most ethnographers visualize their fieldwork study vis-à-vis their long-term commitment to a bounded sociospatial context—an “ecology.” In this manner, the majority of ethnographic studies are presented as studies not only of practices but also of recognizable physical ecologies that breathe life into the practices—for example, homes, ghettos, firms, schools, and so on. In the pages that follow, I consider the ways in which the status of place has shifted in urban sex work. The shifting commerce of sexual services in New York enables me to open up a set of methodological issues about the role of space in ethnographic work. One in particular is at the core of this paper: namely, because so many ethnographic labors begin with the selection of a field site, what conceptual issues arise that fieldworkers must pay attention to vis-à-vis that decision? For example, the field site may change, the field site may itself be shaped by wider societal forces, and it may be simply dissolve over time. How does any of this impact a technique that is premised on the dependability of “sitting” so that others may be dependably followed? I draw on the notion of “strategic action fields” to present an alternative analytic framework, one more useful for the challenges ethnographers face.

O’Brien, Erin: Fuelling traffic Abolitionist claims of a causal nexus between legalised prostitution and trafficking, Crime Law Soc Change (2011) 56:547–565 DOI 10.1007/s10611-011-9334-1

Full article available here


Over the last decade, researchers and legislators have struggled to get an accurate picture of the scale and nature of the problem of human trafficking. In the absence of reliable data, some anti-prostitution activists have asserted that a causal relationship exists between legalised prostitution and human trafficking. They claim that systems of legalised or decriminalised prostitution lead to increases in
trafficking into the sex industry. This paper critically analyses attempts to substantiate this claim during the development of anti-trafficking policy in Australia and the United States. These attempts are explored within the context of persistent challenges in measuring the scale and nature of human trafficking. The efforts of abolitionist campaigners to use statistical evidence and logical argumentation are analysed, with a specific focus on the characterisation of demand for sexual services and systems of legalised prostitution as ‘pull’ factors fuelling an increase in sex
trafficking. The extent to which policymakers sought to introduce evidence-based policy is also explored.