Related readings: A research project on student sex work in Germany from 2010.
Sex workers are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault. However, until recently, there were significant barriers to the prosecution of those who raped sex workers. Prostitutes were seen as ‘commonly’ available to men, as always consenting to sex and thus as incapable of being raped. This article examines 51 judgments — from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand — where evidence of prostitution was presented between 1829 and 2004. It demonstrates an important change in the 1980s and 1990s when, for the first time, men began to be prosecuted and convicted for raping sex workers.This change was partly due to rape law reform, but also to feminist activism and broader changes in social attitudes to rape. The article argues that sex workers have recently been ‘re-made’ in law as women vulnerable to rape, as individuals able to give and withhold sexual consent. This development needs to be taken seriously so that law and policy addressed to the sex industry works to enlarge (not reduce or constrain) the making of prostitutes as subjects with consensual capacity. This necessarily involves attention to more legal rights for prostitutes, as workers, and calls into question the conceptualisation of prostitution as always involving rape.
Quote from the conclusion:
Jeal, N. and Salisbury, C. (2007), Health needs and service use of parlour-based prostitutes compared with street-based prostitutes: a cross-sectional survey. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 114: 875–881. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2007.01379.x
Objectives To compare the health needs of prostitutes (sex workers) working in massage parlours with that of those working on the streets.
Design Cross-sectional survey.
Setting Inner city, UK.
Population Women aged 16 years and older selling sex in massage parlours.
Methods Interviewer-administered questionnaires were undertaken with 71 parlour workers, and results were compared with our previous findings for street sex workers.
Main outcome measures Self-reported experiences of health and service use.
Results In comparison with street sex workers, parlour sex workers were less likely to report chronic (43/71 versus 71/71; P < 0.001) and acute (10/71 versus 35/71; P < 0.001) illnesses but more likely to be registered with a GP (67/71 versus 59/71; P= 0.06). They were more likely than street sex workers to have been screened for sexually transmitted infections in the previous year (49/71 versus 33/71; P= 0.011) and more likely to use contraception in addition to condoms (34/71 versus 8/71; P < 0.001). They were less likely to be overdue for cervical screening (5/46 versus 19/48; P= 0.001), and more of those booked for antenatal care in the first trimester attended all follow-up appointments (28/37 versus 14/47; P < 0.001). Fewer parlour sex workers used heroin (4/71 versus 60/71; P < 0.001), crack cocaine (5/71 versus 62/71; P < 0.001) or injected drugs (2/71 versus 41/71 versus; P < 0.001) They reported fewer episodes of intercourse per week (mean 14 versus 22; P < 0.001) with fewer different men (mean 11 versus 19; P < 0.001), less of whom were new (mean 8 versus 13; P < 0.001).
Conclusions The two groups had very different health experiences, risk-taking behaviour and use of services. To be effective in improving health, different types of service delivered in different settings for different groups are required.
Full text available here.
Kirsten L Isgro, Maria Stehle and Beverly M Weber, “From sex shacks to mega-brothels: The politics of anti-trafficking and the 2006 soccer World Cup” European Journal of Cultural Studies, April 2013, vol. 16 no. 2, 171-193
This article examines the discourses of forced prostitution that circulated in the US and European media and government publications in the context of the soccer World Cup in 2006. This analysis of the public discourse around prostitution reveals two themes: concerns about immigration and border security, and representations of gender binaries that serve to relegate migrant women to the status of victim. The fears of increased sex trafficking and the condemnation of so-called ‘sex shacks’ and ‘mega-brothels’ for the World Cup 2006 served as foils for other perceived crises produced by globalisation. The debates struggle with a marked ‘other’ that reveals new forms of racialised ‘othering’: dangerously white, understood as both of Europe and a threat to it. The 2006 World Cup historical moment has implications for how international sports, consumer culture and feminist activism inform and conceal human agency.
This article’s central argument is that the close association between sex and gifts–resulting in what has been called “transactional sex”–is a central factor driving multiple-partnered sexual relationships, the principal cause of HIV infection in Mandeni. Transactional sex has a number of similarities to prostitution. In both cases, non-marital sexual relationships, often with multiple partners, are underscored by the giving of gifts or cash. Transactional sex, however, differs in important ways: participants are constructed as “girlfriends” and “boyfriends” and not “prostitutes” and “clients”, and the exchange of gifts for sex is part of a broader set of obligations that might not involve a predetermined payment. The use of the concept “transactional sex” is intended neither to maintain inflexible distinctions between the categories of “prostitution “/”transactional sex”/”non-transactional sex” (indeed, sex, like all embodied practices, is always simultaneously material and meaningful in complex ways), nor to naturalize heterosexual sex, the principal focus of this article.
Full text available here.