Monthly Archives: April 2014

Naomi Akers, “A Pilot Health Assessment of Exotic Dancers in San Francisco”. San Francisco State University Masters of Public Health Program (2005).


For the last two years, the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women (COSW) has been hearing testimony from former and current dancers about the current working conditions of strip clubs. There has been a tremendous amount of disagreement between former and current dancers about the working conditions of strip clubs. While the majority of current dancers state conditions in the strip clubs are fine, some former dancers say that risk for sexual assault, HIV/STI transmission, illegal stage fees imposed by strip clubs and coerced prostitution are primary health concerns for dancers. In an attempt to discover if the claims of former dancers are applicable to current dancers, a health assessment was conducted with current exotic dancers. Thirteen women (13) were interviewed using a structured survey with key qualitative questions. Results revealed that the majority of dancers did not think risk of HIV/STI transmission, fear of sexual assault or the existence of private booths are a work related health risk. Nearly half of the sample thought that stage fees were or might be a work related health risks. The lack of healthcare, the shoes that dancers wear, standing on their feet all day, the number of shifts dancers work a week, not making enough money, cleanliness and location of the club, customer harassment, and being treated badly by other people because of what they do were reported as work related health risk by the majority of exotic dancers in this sample.

Full text available here.

Baye, Eneze Modupe-Oluwa, and Silke Heumann. “Migration, Sex Work and Exploitative Labor Conditions Experiences of Nigerian Women in the Sex Industry in Turin, Italy, and Counter-Trafficking Measures.” Gender, Technology and Development 18, no. 1 (March 1, 2014): 77–105. doi:10.1177/0971852413515322.


This article undertakes a critical analysis of counter-trafficking measures in Italy, particularly the Social Protection Program introduced under the 1998 Migration Law for victims experiencing violence and “extreme exploitation”, in relation to the experiences of Nigerian sex workers in the city of Turin. The experiences of Nigerian sex workers in Turin are diverse and complex, as most of the women are undocumented, making them highly vulnerable to exploitative debt and labor contracts, as well as abuse and violence from employers, clients and government authorities. This research found that while the protection program has been fortunate for some beneficiaries, it fails to address the vulnerabilities faced by migrant sex workers. One of the shortcomings of the program is that it protects victims only if they suffer severe forms of violence, provide information that helps in the arrest of traffickers, and tell a “convincing story” that underscores their role as “innocent victims.” It ignores the complexity of the experiences of undocumented migrants who engage in commercial sex work and the multiple challenges they face. It overemphasizes a particular and narrowly defined form of victimization while rendering other forms of victimization invisible. Counter-trafficking measures may offer a modicum of protection for a specific and small group of undocumented migrants in the sex industry. However, when combined with increasing restrictions on migration and sex work, the counter-trafficking measures actually increase the vulnerability of the majority of migrant sex workers, and strengthen the networks of traffickers.


Drawing on research in the UK and the Netherlands, this article considers the respective legislative backgrounds, recent policy changes and their implication for sex workers in off-street environments. It considers the impact of different regulatory models on the employment rights, safety and welfare of sex workers and explores how working conditions in different indoor settings might be improved through legal and policy changes. We argue that although decriminalization of sex work is a precondition to secure the labour and human rights of sex workers, the involvement of sex workers in policy development and facilitation of different modes of working are necessary to improve their working conditions and autonomy.

Niki Adams, “Anti-trafficking legislation: protection or deportation?” Feminist Review 73(1):135, 2003

No abstract available. Opening paragraph:

“In November 2002, under the guise of protecting women from violence and exploitation, new legislation against trafficking was introduced by the UK government as part of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill. Yet experience has shown that anti-trafficking legislation and initiatives are most often used to deport women. Feminists have either initiated or supported such moves, refusing to admit their effect on the women they are supposed to protect.”

Full text available here.

Ahmed, Aziza, Margo Kaplan, Alison Symington, and Eszter Kismodi. “Criminalising Consensual Sexual Behaviour in the Context of HIV: Consequences, Evidence, and Leadership.” Global Public Health 6, no. sup3 (2011): S357–S369. doi:10.1080/17441692.2011.623136.
This paper provides an overview of the use of the criminal law to regulate sexual behaviour in three areas of critical importance: (1) HIV exposure in otherwise consensual sex, (2) sex work and (3) sexual activity largely affecting sexual minorities. It analyses criminal law pertaining to these three distinct areas together, allowing for a more comprehensive and cohesive understanding of criminalisation and its effects. The paper highlights current evidence of how criminalisation undermines HIV prevention and treatment. It focuses on three specific negative effects of criminalisation: (1) enhancing stigma and discrimination, (2) undermining public health intervention through legal marginalisation and (3) placing people in state custody. The paper also highlights gaps in evidence and the need for strong institutional leadership from UN agencies in ending the criminalisation of consensual sexual activity. This paper serves two goals: (1) highlighting the current state of research and emphasising where key institutions have or have not provided appropriate leadership on these issues and (2) establishing a forward-looking agenda that includes a concerted response to the inappropriate use of the criminal law with respect to sexuality as part of the global response to HIV.
Full article available here. 

McCarthy, B.; Benoit, C.; Jansson, M., (2012), Regulating Sex Work: Heterogeneity in Legal Strategies, Annual Review of Law and Social Science.

Full article available here.



In this article, we examine various legal strategies used to regulate the sale and purchase of sexual services. We use three broad categories to structure our discussion: full criminalization, partial decriminalization, and full decriminalization. In each section, we discuss laws directed toward the control of sellers, buyers, and third parties. We focus on legislation and practices at the highest level of aggregation (i.e., the national, state, or provincial level), and due to limited data, we concentrate on high-income countries. We present a critical assessment of each legal approach and conclude with a call for future research on the consequences of different legal strategies for sellers, buyers, and third parties.



Asa Yttergren *


Sweden is often described in terms of its high level of gender equality, which is associated with its institutionalized welfare. The quite radical official Swedish ambition regarding gender equality is laid down in many public documents. Within this context, prostitution is conceptualized as an extreme expression of gender inequality (see Gunnarsson and Svensson in this issue). The aim of this article is to provide an overview of the official Swedish attitude towards trafficking in persons for sexual purposes (hereafter referred to as trafficking), to place this view in an international context, and also to critically analyze problems that arise when the official Swedish objective of establishing gender equality is confronted with the issue of women who have been trafficked to Sweden.

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Price, Josgua M: “Violence Against Prostitutes and a Re-evaluation of the Counterpublic Sphere” Genders 34, 2001.

[1]   The speech of women who work in prostitution lacks credibility for many people. This is particularly true when they testify about the violence they face. It is often difficult for others to perceive violence against prostitutes as something real. Many women describe this contradiction in which they are caught when they speak as prostitutes. In what spaces can they speak and be understood when they describe the violence they face?

[2]   Women who work in prostitution employ a variety of rhetorical strategies to challenge those contradictions, or in some cases finesse them. I would like to examine whether the category of a ‘counterpublic sphere’ is a useful one to think about battered prostitutes’ speech on violence as political intervention. The term ‘counterpublic’ was coined by critics of Habermas’ category of an explicitly ‘bourgeois’ public sphere. Most theoreticians of the counterpublic see it as a useful communicative sphere for oppressed or excluded groups. (See Landes 1988 on the counterpublic in the salons until and through revolutionary France; Negt and Kluge [1993]{1972} thematize a proletariat counterpublic in which the proletariat’s experience is unsundered. Robbins [1993] sees the notion of a counterpublic as a useful substitute for the culture concept; Muñoz, [1998] draws a portrait of Pedro Zamora, the Latino AIDS activist, as cleverly exploiting the counterpublic potentialities of MTV; also see Fraser 1993; Felski 1989; For literature by prostitutes see for example Delacoste and Alexander 1987; Nagle 1999; Giobbe and Quan 1991; See Sanchez [1997; 1997a] for a good analysis of violence against prostitutes and a critical analysis of liberal jurisprudence). Exploring the usefulness of “counterpublic” will also give me a framework to take up the discursive strategies particular women employ when they are theorizing and trying to communicate their understandings of violence.

Read the full paper here. 


The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science:
Special Issue: Human Trafficking: Recent Empirical Research Edited by: Ronald Weitzer and Sheldon X. Zhang

Table of Contents

New Directions in Research on Human Trafficking

Weitzer, Ronald
The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, May 2014; vol. 653: pp. 6-24

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