Elizabeth Bernstein, “Militarized Humanitarianism Meets Carceral Feminism: The Politics of Sex, Rights, and Freedom in Contemporary Antitrafficking Campaigns,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 36, no. 1 (Autumn 2010): 45-71.

Over the past decade, abolitionist feminist and evangelical Christian activists have directed increasing attention toward the “traffic in women” as a dangerous manifestation of global gender inequalities. Despite renowned disagreements around the politics of sex and gender, these groups have come together to advocate for harsher penalties against traffickers, prostitutes’ customers, and nations deemed to be taking insufficient steps to stem the flow of trafficked women. In this essay, I argue that what has served to unite this coalition of “strange bedfellows” is not simply an underlying commitment to conservative ideals of sexuality, as previous commentators have offered, but an equally significant commitment to carceral paradigms of justice and to militarized humanitarianism as the preeminent mode of engagement by the state. I draw upon my ongoing ethnographic research with feminist and evangelical antitrafficking movement leaders to argue that the alliance that has been so efficacious in framing contemporary antitrafficking politics is the product of two historically unique and intersecting trends: a rightward shift on the part of many mainstream feminists and other secular liberals away from a redistributive model of justice and toward a politics of incarceration, coincident with a leftward sweep on the part of many younger evangelicals toward a globally oriented social justice theology. In the final section of this essay, I consider the resilience of these trends given a newly installed and more progressive Obama administration, positing that they are likely to continue even as the terrain of militarized humanitarian action shifts in accordance with new sets of geopolitical interests.

Full text available here.

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Abstract
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One fifth of the Bruges prostitutes in the eighteenth century was prosecuted by the bench of aldermen because their family had requested this. Families called in the help of the court firstly because they were worried about their daughters, wives and sisters and secondly because the sexual reputation of their deviant relatives affected their own lives as well. Families lost their honour because sexual debauchery was a sign of mal education and because it revealed that the family was not able to control the behaviour of its womenfolk. Therefore, prostitutes were, as the eighteenth century synonym seems to indicate, ‘dishonest’ towards their parents. In general, families only went to court when their daughters proved unruly, which is when the families did not succeed in adjusting the dishonest behaviour themselves. When they did go to court, they put great effort in proving ‘good parenthood’ because they had to counterbalance the stigma of dishonesty already affecting them. The bench of aldermen was willing to help honest families with controlling their unruly daughters, partly because the city had a fatherly responsibility over its own citizens. Hence, the Bruges dishonest daughters were imprisoned in the spinning or correction house.
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Full article available here.

Van Meir, Jessica. 2017. “Sex Work and the Politics of Space: Case Studies of Sex Workers in Argentina and Ecuador.” Soc. Sci. 6, no. 2: 42.
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While many studies examine how different legal approaches to prostitution affect sex workers’ living and working conditions, few studies analyze how sex workers’ physical workspaces and the policies regulating these spaces influence sex work conditions. Based on interviews with 109 current or former sex workers, 13 civil society representatives, 12 government officials, and 5 other actors in Ecuador and Argentina, this study describes sex workers’ uses of urban space in the two countries and compares how they experience and respond to government regulation of locations of prostitution. Argentina and Ecuador took different approaches to regulating sex work space, which appear to reflect different political ideologies towards prostitution. Sex workers expressed different individual preferences for spaces, and government limitation of these spaces represented one of their major concerns. The results illuminate how sex workers’ workspaces influence their working conditions and suggest that governments should consider sex worker preferences in establishing policies that affect their workspaces.

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Jessica Van Meir’s Blog with reflections and notes on her research.

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Most literature on prostitution centres exclusively on street and female sex workers. Considering the lack of inclusion of trans sex workers within research agendas and public policies, in this article I analyse websites where trans women offer their services in Portugal and the UK. I examine the way trans women escorts present themselves to potential clients through detailed descriptions of their bodies’ sizes, physical attributes, personal characteristics and lovemaking skills, and how they negotiate gender, nationality, race, ethnicity and sexuality in relation to the cultural and socio-economic demands of the market. An intersectional framework provides the critical perspective from which to consider how certain trans narratives are displayed through these online advertisements while decentring hegemonic notions (mainly, white and middle class) of representing trans experiences. This exploratory research aims to better understand the online trans sex industry as a place of empowerment where ‘beautiful’ trans escorts can strategically position themselves in order to succeed in a competitive market and, simultaneously, lay claim for a certain degree of (finite) recognition.

While the debate on regulating prostitution usually focuses on national policy, it is local policy measures that have the most impact on the ground. This book is the first to offer a detailed analysis of the design and implementation of prostitution policy at the local level and carefully situates local policy practices in national policy making and transnational trends in labour migration and exploitation. Based on detailed comparative research in Austria and the Netherlands, and bringing in experiences in countries such as New Zealand and Sweden, it analyses the policy instruments employed by local administrators to control prostitution and sex workers. Bridging the gap between theory and policy, emphasizing the multilevel nature of prostitution policy, while also highlighting more effective policies on prostitution, migration and labour exploitation, this unique book fills a gap in the literature on this contentious and important social issue.

The book is available for free under CC-License and can be shared and distributed freely from here.

 

Ślęzak, Izabela. 2015. The Influence of Significant Others on the Course of the Process of Leaving Sex Work. Przegląd Socjologii Jakościowej 11(3):132-153.
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The purpose of the article is to present the barriers to leaving sex work which are related to the influence of significant others on decisions made by sex workers. The analysis was applied in the case of two categories of significant others (organizational and intimate), which through interactions in escort agencies and on family grounds, respectively, may exert a destructive influence on sex workers’ intentions, referring to their life and the act of leaving sex work. Therefore, the relationships with significant others described in the article interfere in the process of these women’s identity transformation, hindering the development of a self-concept outside prostitution. The article is based on qualitative research carried out in escort agencies in one of the biggest Polish cities.
The full article is available here.

Gregory Swedberg; Moralizing Public Space: Prostitution, Disease, and Social Disorder in Orizaba, Mexico, 1910–1945, Journal of Social History, 2017https://doi.org/10.1093/jsh/shx083

Abstract

This article explores how women working as prostitutes in Orizaba, Mexico, laid claim to a more revolutionary vision of women’s citizenship. Prostitutes pushed the state to realize the promises of the Mexican Revolution, even as officials and many local residents—rich and poor—retained outmoded notions of gender and citizenship. This research indicates that “respectable” poor and working-class individuals gravitated toward traditional gender values so as to position themselves as respectable in the eyes of state agents charged with policing morality and public health. State officials’ rhetoric of egalitarianism that followed the Mexican Revolution fell flat for the public women whose pecuniary position persisted long after the guns fell silent.