Monthly Archives: May 2014

Richter, Marlise; Luchters, Stanley; Ndlovu, Dudu; Female sex work and international sport events – no major changes in demand or supply of paid sex during the 2010 Soccer World Cup: a cross-sectional study, in: BMC Public Health 12 (1), September 2012, S. 763.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



Important unanswered questions remain on the impact of international sporting events on the sex industry. Speculation about increased demand and supply of sex work often generates significant attention, but also additional funding for HIV programmes. This study assessed whether changes occurred in the demand and supply of paid sex during the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa.


Trained sex worker interviewers conducted face-to-face semi-structured interviews among consenting female sex workers during May-September 2010. Using bivariate analyses we compared supply, demand, sexual risk-taking, and police and health services contact pre-World Cup, to levels during the World Cup and after the event.


No increases were detected in indicators of sex work supply, including the proportion of sex workers newly arrived in the city (< 2.5% in each phase) or those recently entering the trade (≤ 1.5%). Similarly, demand for sex work, indicated by median number of clients (around 12 per week) and amount charged per transaction ($13) remained similar in the three study periods. Only a third of participants reported observing any change in the sex industry ascribed to the World Cup. Self-reported condom-use with clients remained high across all samples (> 92.4% in all phases). Health-care utilisation decreased non-significantly from the pre- to during World Cup period (62.4% to 57.0%; P = 0.075). Across all periods, about thirty percent of participants had interacted with police in the preceding month, two thirds of whom had negative interactions.


Contrary to public opinion, no major increases were detected in the demand or supply of paid sex during the World Cup. Although the study design employed was unable to select population-based samples, these findings do not support the public concern and media speculation prior to the event, but rather signal a missed opportunity for public health action. Given the media attention on sex work, future sporting events offer strategic opportunities to implement services for sex workers and their clients, especially as health service utilisation might decrease in this period. Read More

Julie Bates and Rigmor Berg (2014). Sex Workers as Safe Sex Advocates: Sex Workers Protect Both Themselves and the Wider Community From HIV. AIDS Education and Prevention: Vol. 26, No. 3, pp. 191-201.

Since the advent of HIV, significant changes have made the Australian sex industry one of the safest in the world. Creating this safety has been in large part due to the ability of sex workers to act as safe sex advocates through peer-based health promotion; to negotiate with sex business owners; and to inform and participate in the development of government policy. Empowerment of sex workers through legislative reform and government funding of sex worker organizations has been central to the prevention of HV transmission, as has been the development of genuine partnership between sex worker organizations, government departments and those working in public health. The paper describes these responses in some detail and explores some of the current issues facing sex workers in Australia.

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Sara Vida Coumans; How Age Matters: Exploring contemporary Dutch debates on age and sex work, Working Paper
No. 588 ISS. 


Social protection policies regarding sex work in The Netherlands use ‘age’ as an instrument to create binaries between adults and young people. The concept ‘chronological age’ assumes that age is a static feature and supports the process of categorization; however, age is a socially constructed phenomenon and has an embodied experience that is gendered. The objective of this research is to understand the role of ‘age’ in shaping social protection policies regarding sex work in The Netherlands, by analyzing how age is understood by those involved in the design and implementation of policies related to sex work in The Netherlands.

Full paper available here

Excerpt from the conclusion:

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Stienstra, Deborah: Madonna/Whore, Pimp /Protector: International Law and Organization Related to Prostitution, in: Studies in Political Economy 51 (0), 1996.


Madonnaor whore? Pimp or protector? International law and organization related to global prostitution reflect assumptions about gender relations that portray women either as whores and victims of men’s lust or as good wives and mother madonnas who work to save these fallen women.

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Dasgupta, Simanti. “Sovereign Silence: Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act and Legalizing Sex Work in Sonagachi.” PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review 37, no. 1 (May 1, 2014): 109–25. doi:10.1111/plar.12053.


Drawing upon ethnographic work with a grassroots sex workers’ organization in Calcutta, Durbar Samanwaya Samiti (Durbar), this article analyzes the relationship between subalternity and silence. I discuss how sex workers, especially new entrants, use silence as a subaltern strategy to resist state and non-state surveillance intended to oppose trafficking. The increased surveillance is a direct result of the global anti-trafficking narrative, led mainly by the United States, in which developing countries, like India, adopt measures to avoid being downgraded in the United States’ Trafficking in Persons Report. I contend that these national and international efforts have led to a quandary where the lives of these sex workers are rendered inaudible. Here I specifically examine the practices of the Self-Regulatory Board, established by Durbar to identify new entrants who may have been unwilling trafficked and do not want to join the profession. I argue that the Board, in replicating state practices, in effect has created an environment where women prefer to embrace silence in order to confront its power.


This article explores the movement to decriminalize sex work in the Gauteng province of Johannesburg from 1994 to 2002. In particular, I examine the actions and statements of the provincial Ministry of Safety and Security and other ministries in the decision to de facto decriminalize prostitution using the international language of human rights. This article illustrates that the movement to decriminalize sex work in the postapartheid period is not a sharp departure from the past. Rather, as early as the 1970s there were minority contingents that advocated a legalization or decriminalization of sex work, arguing for the public health or policy benefits that would follow. What is new in the postapartheid period is the justification for decriminalization, which now is based on the international language of human rights. Also new in the postapartheid period is the inclusion in the debate of voices that were not heard during apartheid, when the media was dominated by white South Africans. There is now a counterdiscourse opposing decriminalization, based on religion and on the argument that sex work is “un-African.”


The research for this article was conducted in the greater Johannesburg area of South Africa in 1996 ( july-September) and from September 1997 to September 1999. Gauteng was chosen as a site for research because of an effort to decriminalize sex work led by the department of Safety and security (Gauteng province) in the Johannesburg area. Some of the questions posed by this article include the following: To what extent was the movement or effort to decriminalize prostitution in the 1990s a shift and departure from the control of sexuality during the apartheid period? What factors account for the movement to decriminalize sex work? How does South Africa’s racial diversity figure in the movement, and how did it affect previous discourse on this topic?1

To understand the origins and (at least so far) the limited success of the decriminalization movement, one has to examine the nature of sex work in apartheid South Africa and the changes that have taken place in the postapartheid era. Before the ending of apartheid, most advocates for legalization or decriminalization of prostitution had focused on the public health benefits of an increased tolerance and leniency. A history of tolerance toward prostitution in the Cape Colony and the ZAR (Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek) also provided an historical precedent for the postapartheid movement. Significantly, most of the voices of liberalization in the apartheid era were white; black South Africans had neither the power, nor sufficient access to public media and airwaves, to make their positions known. …

Full article available here

Résumé: Cet article examine le mouvement de dépénalisation de l’industrie du sexe dans la province de Gauteng, Johannesburg, de 1994 à 2002. Nous examinons en particulier les actes et les déclarations du ministère de la sûreté et de la sécurité et d’autres ministères de cette province à la lumière de la décision de dépénaliser de facto la prostitution en invoquant le langage international des droits de l’homme. Cet article montre que ce mouvement de dépénalisation de l’industrie du sexe pendant la période postapartheid ne constitue pas un tournant radical par rapport au passé. Au contraire, dè;s les années 1970, il existait des contingents minoritaires qui militaient pour une légalisation ou une dépénalisation de l’industrie du sexe, invoquant les avantages en matière de santé publique et de politique qui ne manqueraient pas de s’ensuivre. Ce qui est nouveau dans la période postapartheid est la justification citée pour la dépénalisation, qui se base désormais sur le langage international des droits de l’homme. Une autre nouveauté de la période postapartheid est l’inclusion dans ce débat de voix qui n’avaient pas pu être entendues pendant l’apartheid, les média étant alors dominés par les africains du sud blancs. Il existe aujourd’hui un contre-discours s’opposant à la dépénalisation. Ce discours s’appuie sur la religion ainsi que sur l’argument que le travail de l’industrie du sexe est “contraire à l’esprit africain.”

Harrington, Carol. “Governing Sex Workers in Timor Leste.” Asia Pacific Viewpoint 52, no. 1 (April 1, 2011): 29–41. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8373.2011.01440.x.


This paper argues that international security forces in Timor Leste depend upon civilian partners in HIV/AIDs ‘knowledge networks’ to monitor prostitutes’ disease status. These networks produce mobile expertise, techniques of government and forms of personhood that facilitate international government of distant populations without overt coercion. HIV/AIDs experts promote techniques of peer education, empowerment and community mobilisation to construct women who sell sex as health conscious sex workers. Such techniques make impoverished women responsible for their disease status, obscuring the political and economic contexts that produced that status. In the militarised context of Timor Leste, knowledge of the sexual conduct of sub-populations labelled high risk circulates among global HIV/AIDs knowledge networks, confirming their expert status while obscuring the sexual harm produced by military intervention. HIV/AIDs knowledge networks have recently begun to build Timorese sex worker organisations by contracting an Australian sex worker NGO to train a Timorese NGO tasked with building sex worker identity and community. Such efforts fail to address the needs and priorities of the women supposedly empowered. The paper engages theories of global knowledge networks, mobile technologies of government, and governmentality to analyse policy documents, reports, programmes, official statements, speeches, and journalistic accounts regarding prostitution in Timor Leste.

Full article available here.