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Tag Archives: Asia and the Pacific

Sex workers report high rates of unintended pregnancy that are inconsistent with widespread reports of condom use. Greater understanding of the implications of an unintended pregnancy and barriers to contraceptive use is needed to better meet the broader sexual and reproductive health needs of this population. We conducted in-depth interviews with 20 women sex workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Findings reveal that most women are trying to conform to societal norms and protect their reputations. They fear pregnancy would reveal that they are having unsanctioned sex and that they are sex workers. This could lead to ostracism from families and society, resulting in homelessness and abandonment by partners. Pregnancy may affect a sex worker’s ability to work and leave her unable to meet financial obligations. All study participants were using condoms but most acknowledged they could not use them consistently. They had all tried other contraceptive methods, notably injectables and the pill, but some noted experience of side-effects, difficulties in adherence and the desire to use other methods. Understanding the context of sex workers’ lives is an important step in informing stakeholders about the range of services needed to improve their sexual and reproductive health.
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Julie Ham, Kyungja Jung, and Haeyoung Jang “Silence, mobility and ‘national values’: South Korean sex workers in Australia” Sexualities, vol. 19, no. 4, 2016, pp. 432-448.

Abstract:

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.

 

Abstract

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.

Phrasisombath, Ketkesone et al. “Risks, Benefits and Survival Strategies-Views from Female Sex Workers in Savannakhet, Laos.” BMC Public Health 12 (2012): 1004. PMC. Web. 5 Dec. 2015.

Background

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

Full text available here.

Bradley, Clara, and Natalia Szablewska. “Anti-Trafficking (ILL-)Efforts The Legal Regulation of Women’s Bodies and Relationships in Cambodia.” Social & Legal Studies, November 19, 2015, 0964663915614885. doi:10.1177/0964663915614885.
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Abstract
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Global imaginations on human trafficking have been captured by a robust mythology that constructs the consenting Third World sex worker as simply a victim of trafficking for sexual exploitation. This anti-trafficking discourse has influenced Cambodia’s legal reform, which has resulted in an increase of abuse against sex workers and has denied Cambodian women their right to marry foreign men. Despite evidence indicating the diversity of the sex industry and its correlation to different levels of sex workers’ autonomy, decision-makers have failed to revise the anti-trafficking framework to reflect the reality of the divergent lives of women who engage in sex as a livelihood.