Can’t Buy My Love: A Typology of Female Sex Workers’ Commercial Relationships in the Mexico–U.S. Border Region

Robertson, Angela M.; Syvertsen, Jennifer L.; Amaro, Hortensia; u. a.: Can’t Buy My Love: A Typology of Female Sex Workers’ Commercial Relationships in the Mexico–U.S. Border Region, in: Journal of Sex Research 51 (6), 2014, S. 711–720.
Abstract:
Female sex workers (FSWs) experience elevated risk for HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) through unprotected sex with male clients, yet the complexity of these commercial relationships remains understudied. From 2010 to 2011, we explored FSWs’ conceptualizations of various client types and related risk behavior patterns using semistructured interviews with 46 FSWs in Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, where FSWs’ HIV/STI prevalence is increasing. Our grounded theory analysis identified four types of commercial relationships: nonregular clients, regular clients and friends, clients who “fell in love” with FSWs, and long-term financial providers who often originated from the United States. As commercial relationships developed, clients’ social and emotional connections to FSWs increased, rendering condom negotiation and maintaining professional boundaries more difficult. Drug abuse and poverty also influenced behaviors, particularly in Ciudad Juárez, where lucrative U.S. clients were increasingly scarce. While struggling to cultivate dependable relationships in a setting marked by historical sex tourism from a wealthier country, some FSWs ceased negotiating condom use. We discuss the need for HIV/STI research and prevention interventions to recognize the complexity within FSWs’ commercial relationships and how behaviors (e.g., condom use) evolve as relationships develop through processes that are influenced by local sociopolitical contexts and binational income inequality.
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