This Article considers the overall regime established by the 2000 Palermo Protocol to demonstrate the manner in which the legal order of States. In so doing, and with special reference to the definition of trafficking, it shows the limited ability of States to actually carry out their avowed wish to suppress the trafficking in persons. Because their jurisdiction over what is termed ‘trafficking’ is different, the ability for the origin, transit, and/or destination countries to ‘join-up’ is rendered unworkable by, for instance, extradition treaties that require crimes to be common to both jurisdictions, or the application of extraterritorial jurisdiction when what is deemed a crime in one jurisdiction is not so in another. Thus, in a very short period of time, legislators around the world have created, under the banner of ‘trafficking,’ an international regime which, through its implementation in the domestic sphere, has fractured its potential effectiveness.
Over the past two decades there has been a growing body of academic and community-based literature on sex workers’ lives and work. However, the discourses, laws, and policies that impact sex workers are continually changing, and critical perspectives are constantly needed. Therefore, this Special Issue of the Anti-Trafficking Review highlights some of the current achievements of – and challenges faced by – the global sex worker rights movement.
Contributors examine the ways in which organising and collectivisation have enabled sex workers to speak up for themselves and tell their own stories, claim their human, social, and labour rights, resist stigma and punitive laws and policies, and provide mutual and peer-based support. The contexts in focus include Canada, Latin America and Caribbean, United States, France, South Africa, India, Thailand and the Philippines.
Petra Östergren (2017): From Zero-Tolerance to Full Integration: Rethinking Prostitution Policies. DemandAT Working Paper No. 10.
This tenth DemandAT working paper by Petra Östergren fom Lund University develops a typology for prostitution policy regimes. Based on an inductive methodological approach, it presents a typology of three general prostitution policy models (or regimes), as repressive, restrictive or integrative. The intention of such a tripartite typology is that it can serve as a tool for assessing, evaluating and comparing prostitution policies, even in cases where they seem to contain contradictory or incoherent elements. Besides using the prostitution policy typology for analytical purposes, it can also serve as a tool for developing context-sensitive measures against violence, exploitation and trafficking in human beings in the sex work sector.
This research used a semi-structured interview method and Smith and Osborn’s (2003) interpretive phenomenological analysis to investigate a female prostitute’s experiences of stigma associated with her work. To structure the interview schedule, Seidman’s (2006) in-depth phenomenologically based interviewing method, which comprises three areas of focus, “focused life history,” “details of the experience” under investigation, and “reflection of the meaning” of the experience, was used as a general guide. Ten broad psychological themes were identified: 1) awareness of engaging in what people think is bad; (2) negative labeling by people who discover she is a prostitute; 3) hiding and lying about her identity as a prostitute to avoid being labeled negatively; 4) hiding and lying about her prostitution identity result in stress, anxiety, and exhaustion; 5) wishing she did not have to hide and lie about being a prostitute; 6) questioning and objecting to the stigmatization of prostitution; 7) managing the sense of stigmatization by persons who know about her prostitution by shifting focus away from devaluing and toward valuable qualities of prostitution; 8) developing occupational esteem and self-esteem through reflection of values; 9) compassion towards other people who suffer from stigma; and 10) resiliency.
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Platt L, Grenfell P, Meiksin R, Elmes J, Sherman SG, Sanders T, et al. (2018) Associations between sex work laws and sex workers’ health: A systematic review and meta-analysis of quantitative and qualitative studies. PLoS Med 15(12): e1002680. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002680
Sex workers are at disproportionate risk of violence and sexual and emotional ill health, harms that have been linked to the criminalisation of sex work. We synthesised evidence on the extent to which sex work laws and policing practices affect sex workers’ safety, health, and access to services, and the pathways through which these effects occur.
Methods and findings
We searched bibliographic databases between 1 January 1990 and 9 May 2018 for qualitative and quantitative research involving sex workers of all genders and terms relating to legislation, police, and health. We operationalised categories of lawful and unlawful police repression of sex workers or their clients, including criminal and administrative penalties. We included quantitative studies that measured associations between policing and outcomes of violence, health, and access to services, and qualitative studies that explored related pathways. We conducted a meta-analysis to estimate the average effect of experiencing sexual/physical violence, HIV or sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and condomless sex, among individuals exposed to repressive policing compared to those unexposed. Qualitative studies were synthesised iteratively, inductively, and thematically. We reviewed 40 quantitative and 94 qualitative studies. Repressive policing of sex workers was associated with increased risk of sexual/physical violence from clients or other parties (odds ratio [OR] 2.99, 95% CI 1.96–4.57), HIV/STI (OR 1.87, 95% CI 1.60–2.19), and condomless sex (OR 1.42, 95% CI 1.03–1.94). The qualitative synthesis identified diverse forms of police violence and abuses of power, including arbitrary arrest, bribery and extortion, physical and sexual violence, failure to provide access to justice, and forced HIV testing. It showed that in contexts of criminalisation, the threat and enactment of police harassment and arrest of sex workers or their clients displaced sex workers into isolated work locations, disrupting peer support networks and service access, and limiting risk reduction opportunities. It discouraged sex workers from carrying condoms and exacerbated existing inequalities experienced by transgender, migrant, and drug-using sex workers. Evidence from decriminalised settings suggests that sex workers in these settings have greater negotiating power with clients and better access to justice. Quantitative findings were limited by high heterogeneity in the meta-analysis for some outcomes and insufficient data to conduct meta-analyses for others, as well as variable sample size and study quality. Few studies reported whether arrest was related to sex work or another offence, limiting our ability to assess the associations between sex work criminalisation and outcomes relative to other penalties or abuses of police power, and all studies were observational, prohibiting any causal inference. Few studies included trans- and cisgender male sex workers, and little evidence related to emotional health and access to healthcare beyond HIV/STI testing.
Together, the qualitative and quantitative evidence demonstrate the extensive harms associated with criminalisation of sex work, including laws and enforcement targeting the sale and purchase of sex, and activities relating to sex work organisation. There is an urgent need to reform sex-work-related laws and institutional practices so as to reduce harms and barriers to the realisation of health.