Monthly Archives: March 2014

Chi Mgbako and Laura A. Smith, Sex Work and Human Rights in Africa, 33 Fordham Int’l L.J. 1178 (2011). 
Available at:


This Article serves as the first law review essay to engage the feminist debates regarding sex work and human rights in the African context. This Article surveys “antiprostitution” and “pro-sex-worker” feminist arguments and activities in the sub-Saharan Africa; explores the debate surrounding the legal frameworks of legalization, decriminalization, prohibition, and abolition of prostitution in a number of African countries including Senegal, where prostitution is legal and regulated, and South Africa where prostitution remains illegal despite civil society advocacy for decriminalization; and calls for the empowerment of African sex workers by arguing for a human rights-based transformation in African governments’ legal and policy posture towards sex work. Part I of this Article explores both the feminist arguments against prostitution and in favor of sex workers’ rights. Part II traces the development of the distinction between forced and unforced prostitution in international law and argues that the international human rights system creates a foundation for the realization of sex workers’ rights in Africa. Part III explores the debates regarding the criminalization of prostitution in a number of African countries and includes case studies from Senegal and South Africa.

Stewart, Ann. 2014. “Legal Constructions of Body Work.” Feminists@law 4 (1) (February 22).


This chapter explores the way in which two examples of body work – the labour involved in caring for the vulnerable elderly and in providing commercial sex – are regulated. It highlights the challenges that body work presents for labour law and exposes the wider conceptual limitations that this area of law faces in a consumer based market economy in which the boundaries between production and social reproduction are being reconstituted.

Full Text: PDF

Stephanie Sexton, “Over the Parapet: a short study into the needs and aspirations of sex workers in Edinburgh” (Scot-pep, July 2009).

Why ‘Over the Parapet’?

All those who work with people be that in the voluntary or public sectors are very familiar with the terms user involvement or stakeholder engagement. User involvement in service planning and in service scrutiny is a key theme in Government thinking.

We need to find ways to hear the voices of those who use services so that we are able to meet their needs and can respond positively to their aspirations. We need to understand what we are doing right, what we could do better, and what we need to change fundamentally.

This requires us to make space for those who use services to say what they really think, ‘rather than tell us what they think we want to hear’; and to take time to understand the subtlety or complexity of the challenges service users face in their daily lives – directly and indirectly related to their presenting issue.

Those who use our services often feel powerless to affect change. Some feel anxiety that to challenge will be construed as negative criticism and may affect the way services are provided in the future.

Sex workers operate in an environment, which is hostile; rarely valued for who they are; they experience explicit and implicit messages that reduce them to people who represent parts of society that we would rather keep hidden or lose altogether. The implicit message is for them to keep hidden or stop work altogether.

Against this backdrop, women are loath to put their head above the parapet, to talk directly about their needs and aspirations; to talk about their concerns about services and policing; about friendship and family; or about their children.

This study has been commissioned as a step towards that being achieved. It is a first step, but a courageous one. The expectation is that no one cares, will take notice, or will say ‘we are doing all this already’, or say ‘do something else’. We hope that this attempt to stand up and make themselves vulnerable so that others can hear their voices will be respected – as they should be respected, and that the issues and ideas expressed will be considered with a willingness to take steps to meet their overriding need – that to be treated with dignity and respect.


This article examines the St. James Infirmary (SJI), a nonprofit occupational health and safety clinic for sex workers in San Francisco, to consider how particular organizational spaces and practices may challenge gender ideologies in the United States—in this case, of women sex workers as “victim-criminals.” Drawing empirically from multimethod qualitative research and theoretically from feminist institutionalism, I indicate how the SJI’s broader institutional context has (re)produced a victim-criminal ideology of women in prostitution. Next, I consider the SJI’s organizational emergence and operations to argue that, by deploying particular spatial-discursive practices and operational procedures, nonprofits with legacies of activism may draw from these to challenge dominant gender ideologies, even as they work alongside the broader institutional structures that promote them. Although single case studies like the SJI cannot establish broad theoretical generalizations and propositions, I use it to build knowledge and highlight important lessons about nonprofits, gender, and institutional change.