Korean women sex workers have attracted attention from Australian border security, South Korean government officials and Korean-Australian communities. This article considers how the bodies of these women have become the ‘iconic sites’ (Luibhéid, 2002: ix–xxvii) on which the South Korean government and immigrant Korean-Australian communities perform ‘national values’. Within Korean-Australian communities, Korean sex workers have been perceived as threats to the immigrant project of socio-economic mobility and ‘legitimate’ citizenship. We consider the silence that is desired of sex workers within immigrant communities and how this can be co-opted by anti-trafficking discourses that are still predicated on the helpless, voiceless female victim.
Japan has one of the world’s largest and most diverse legal sex industries. In a limited female labor market, sex industry work is a stigmatized yet lucrative form of women’s short-term employment and advertisements for recruiting new employees are prominently displayed across urban spaces associated with feminized consumption. In this article, I examine the ideological impasses that adult Japanese women working in Tokyo’s sex industry express when talking about their motives for pursuing this work. Female sex workers commonly justify their work as the necessary sacrifice of filial daughters. This rhetoric of reluctant acceptance for the sake of others, however, obscures the reality that many sex workers are middle-class and college-educated women who find the financial opportunity and flexibility of this industry appealing in contrast to more dominant forms of feminized labor. These women express the ambivalence of their desires for economic self-sufficiency through narrating the dependence of others on them. Examining these ambivalences, I argue that sex workers’ motivations can only be understood through considering the ethical and moral frameworks that define the gendered economies in which they labor.
Female sex workers (FSWs) are vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and encounter socio-economic and health problems, including STIs/HIV, unintended pregnancy and complications from unsafe abortion, stigma, violence, and drug addiction. Reducing risks associated with sex work requires an understanding of the social and cultural context in which sex workers live and work. This study aimed to explore the working environment and perceived risks among FSWs in Savannakhet province in Laos.
Five focus group discussions (FGDs) and seven interviews were conducted with FSWs in Kaysone Phomvihan district in Laos. Latent content analysis was used to analyze the transcribed text.
The results revealed that the FSWs were aware of risks but they also talked about benefits related to their work. The risks were grouped into six categories: STIs/HIV, unintended pregnancy, stigma, violence, being cheated, and social and economic insecurity. The reported benefits were financial security, fulfilling social obligations, and sexual pleasure. The FSWs reported using a number of strategies to reduce risks and increase benefits.
The desire to be self-sufficient and earn as much money as possible put the FSWs in disadvantaged and vulnerable situations. Fear of financial insecurity, obligations to support one’s family and the need to secure the future influenced FSWs’ decisions to have safe or unsafe sex. The FSWs were, however, not only victims. They also had some control over their lives and working environment, with most viewing their work as an easy and good way of earning money.
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