Based on research work among cross-border migrant women who sell sex in South Africa, this paper examines the ways in which the label ‘victim’ of human trafficking ignores the complex realities of human mobility. We argue here that as state legislative and policy measures, in relation to human trafficking, justify the securitisation of borders and the curtailment of migrant rights, an accompanying hegemonic discourse serves to deny the agency of migrant women sex workers. As a result, the linkages between human trafficking and migration are experienced by migrant women sex workers through new layers of vulnerability and insecurity.
Anthony Marcus & Robert Riggs & Amber Horning & Sarah Rivera & Ric Curtis & Efram Thompson. “Is Child to Adult as Victim is to Criminal? Social Policy and Street-Based Sex Work in the USA” Sex Res Soc Policy (2012) 9:153–166DOI 10.1007/s13178-011-0070-1
Longstanding policy debates over how prostitution/sex work should be thought about and responded to have been upended in the USA by a growing tendency to conflate the practice with sex trafficking. US law and social policy have converged most fully on this issue in a movement to eradicate what has come to be known as the commercial sexual exploitation of children. One outcome of this movement has been an expanded focus on prosecuting and imprisoning pimps and other legal adults who support or abet juridical minors involved in the sex trade. This paper will show that the simplistic, one-size-fits-all narrative of the child victim and the adult exploiter inherent in this policy does not reflect the realities of street-based sex work in the USA. After 2 years of ethnographic and social network research in two cities, we find that sex market-involved young people participate in a great diversity of market–facilitation relationships, many of which provide the only or the most crucial foundation for their support networks. A social policy based on a one-dimensional construction of the child victim and the adult exploiter not only endangers these crucial relationships but also disappears the real needs of young people involved in the exchange of sex for money.
The modern‐slavery paradigm promotes analogies between contemporary trafficking and the transatlantic, white, and indigenous slave trade. The analogy some scholars use to address debt bondage in past and present Southeast Asia prompted me to consider the hypothesis that the debts incurred by Vietnamese sex workers with moneylenders, procurers, and migration brokers are a remnant of indigenous slavery. However, the ethnographic and legalistic study of debt in the Vietnamese sex sector across Southeast Asia in relation to debt‐bondage traditions provides limited support to the transhistorical thesis. Nonetheless, it throws light on the creditor–debtor relationship and shows that sex workers need credit to finance production and social reproduction in a region undergoing rapid capitalist development, and that because of their exclusion from financial, labor, and labor migration markets, they access it through personalized arrangements that generate strong obligations and dependencies with the potential for restrictions of freedom, in a social structure that promotes patronage, vertical bonding, and dependency.
The journal “Sexualities” published a discussion around Ronald Weitzer’s piece “Resistance to sex work stigma” in its September 2018 issue.
From the Editor’s Note:
“Professor Ronald Weitzer has written a short piece to Sexualities. It is a commentary in which Weitzer examines the notion of stigma in the context of sex work. He points out that stigma is not determined but has the possibility of change and suggests ‘a set of preconditions for the reduction and, ultimately, elimination of stigma from sex work’, which includes neutralization of language, a more balanced representation of sex work in the mass media, decriminalization, industry mobilization, sex worker activism, and intervention from the academia. We thought this piece would generate discussion and thus open up theoretical debate as well as practical concern about policy and legislation regarding sex work and stigma. We then invited scholars to comment and the following have agreed to write a commentary: Professor Teela Sanders, Professor Wendy Chapkis, Professor Jo Phoenix, and Professor Minichiello (together with Professor John Scott and Mr Cameron Cox).”
The contributions to the discussion can be found here (paywall).
- Chapkis, Wendy. 2018. „Commentary: Response to Weitzer ‘Resistance to Sex Work Stigma’“. Sexualities 21 (5–6): 743–46. https://doi.org/10.1177/1363460716684511.
- Kong, Travis SK. 2018. „Editor’s Note: Ronald Weitzer“. Sexualities 21 (5–6): 715–16. https://doi.org/10.1177/1363460717690714.
- Lee, Na-Young. 2018. „Un/Forgettable Histories of US Camptown Prostitution in South Korea: Women’s Experiences of Sexual Labor and Government Policies“. Sexualities 21 (5–6): 751–75. https://doi.org/10.1177/1363460716688683.
- Minichiello, Victor, John Scott, und Cameron Cox. 2018. „Commentary: Reversing the Agenda of Sex Work Stigmatization and Criminalization: Signs of a Progressive Society“. Sexualities 21 (5–6): 730–35. https://doi.org/10.1177/1363460716684510.
- Phoenix, Jo. 2018. „A Commentary: Response to Weitzer ‘Resistance to Sex Work Stigma’“. Sexualities 21 (5–6): 740–42. https://doi.org/10.1177/1363460716684512.
- Sanders, Teela. 2018. „Unpacking the Process of Destigmatization of Sex Work/Ers: Response to Weitzer ‘Resistance to Sex Work Stigma’“. Sexualities 21 (5–6): 736–39. https://doi.org/10.1177/1363460716677731.
- Weitzer, Ronald. 2018a. „Additional Reflections on Sex Work Stigma“. Sexualities 21 (5–6): 747–50. https://doi.org/10.1177/1363460716684513.
- ———. 2018b. „Resistance to Sex Work Stigma“. Sexualities 21 (5–6): 717–29. https://doi.org/10.1177/1363460716684509.