Ham, Julie. (2020). Rates, roses and donations: Naming your price in sex work. Sociology 2020 (Online First). https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0038038520906773
Questions about payment and what it signifies, lie at the heart of feminist debates concerning the morality and legitimacy of sex work. Yet the materialities of payment still remain interestingly under-explored in sex work research. This article addresses this gap by examining immigrant, migrant and racialized sex workers’ pricing practices in Vancouver, Canada and Melbourne, Australia. Determining one’s prices or rates in the sex industry was not a neutral, market-driven calculation for many workers, but was infused with strong ideas about safety, risk, experiential knowledge and the specificities of sex work. Analysing prices and pricing practices through a practice theory lens offers an opportunity to re-think the role of choice in feminist debates about sex work, by highlighting the decisions workers make on a day-to-day basis and capturing the myriad knowledges gained more commonly through experience rather than instruction.
P Duff, J Sou, J Chapman, S Dobrer, M Braschel, S Goldenberg, K Shannon; Poor working conditions and work stress among Canadian sex workers , Occupational Medicine, Volume 67, Issue 7, 1 October 2017, Pages 515–521, https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqx092
While sex work is often considered the world’s oldest profession, there remains a dearth of research on work stress among sex workers (SWs) in occupational health epidemiological literature. A better understanding of the drivers of work stress among SWs is needed to inform sex work policy, workplace models and standards.Aims
To examine the factors that influence work stress among SWs in Metro Vancouver.Methods
Analyses drew from a longitudinal cohort of SWs, known as An Evaluation of Sex Workers’ Health Access (AESHA) (2010–14). A modified standardized ‘work stress’ scale, multivariable linear regression with generalized estimating equations was used to longitudinally examine the factors associated with work stress.Results
In multivariable analysis, poor working conditions were associated with increased work stress and included workplace physical/sexual violence (β = 0.18; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.06, 0.29), displacement due to police (β = 0.26; 95% CI 0.14, 0.38), working in public spaces (β = 0.73; 95% CI 0.61, 0.84). Older (β = −0.02; 95% CI −0.03, −0.01) and Indigenous SWs experienced lower work stress (β = −0.25; 95% CI −0.43, −0.08), whereas non-injection (β = 0.32; 95% CI 0.14, 0.49) and injection drug users (β = 0.17; 95% CI 0.03, 0.31) had higher work stress.Conclusions
Vancouver-based SWs’ work stress was largely shaped by poor work conditions, such as violence, policing, lack of safe workspaces. There is a need to move away from criminalized approaches which shape unsafe work conditions and increase work stress for SWs. Policies that promote SWs’ access to the same occupational health, safety and human rights standards as workers in other labour sectors are also needed.
Lyons, Tara, Andrea Krüsi, Leslie Pierre, Will Small, and Kate Shannon. “The Impact of Construction and Gentrification on an Outdoor Trans Sex Work Environment: Violence, Displacement and Policing.” Sexualities, January 10, 2017, 1363460716676990. doi:10.1177/1363460716676990.
The objective of this study was to investigate how environmental and structural changes to a trans outdoor work environment impacted sex workers in Vancouver, Canada. The issue of changes to the work area arose during qualitative interviews with 33 trans sex workers. In response, ethnographic walks that incorporated photography were undertaken with trans sex workers. Changes to the work environment were found to increase vulnerabilities to client violence, displace trans sex workers, and affect policing practices. Within a criminalized context, construction and gentrification enhanced vulnerabilities to violence and harassment from police and residents.
Hamish Stewart. The Constitutionality of the New Sex Work Law, Alberta Law Review (ALR) 54(1):69-88.
In this article, the author considers the constitutionality of Canada’s new law on prostitution: Bill C-36. When the new sex work law was first introduced into Parliament, a number of advocacy groups and commentators argued that it was unconstitutional because of its failure to respond to the concerns raised in Bedford v. Canada, a case where the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the old sex work law on the ground that its negative impact on sex workers’ security of the person outweighed its nuisance abatement objective. This author agrees that Bill C-36 may be unconstitutional, but for a different reason. The new sex work law adheres to the constitutional norms invoked in Bedford by making use of two novel policy objectives: discouraging sex work and reducing the danger of sex work to sex workers. In practice, however, these objectives are likely to conflict with one another. As a result, Bill C-36 is an incoherent piece of legislation that may be unconstitutional for creating arbitrary and grossly disproportionate effects on the security of the person of sex workers.
Cooper, Emily. “‘It’s Better than Daytime Television’: Questioning the Socio-Spatial Impacts of Massage Parlours on Residential Communities.” Sexualities 19, no. 5–6 (September 1, 2016): 547–66. doi:10.1177/1363460715616949.
It has been shown that street sex work is problematic for some communities, but there is less evidence of the effects of brothels. Emerging research also suggests that impact discourses outlined by residential communities and in regulatory policies should be critiqued, because they are often based on minority community voices, and limited tangible evidence is used to mask wider moral viewpoints about the place of sex work. Using a study of residents living in close proximity to brothels in Blackpool, this article argues that impact is socially and spatially fluid. Impact needs to be evaluated in a more nuanced manner, which is considerate of the heterogeneity of (even one type of) sex work, and the community in question. Brothels in Blackpool had a variety of roles in the everyday socio-spatial fabric; thus also questioning the common assumption that sex work only impacts negatively on residential communities.
Alison Clancey, Noushin Khushrushahi, and Julie Ham “Do evidence-based approaches alienate Canadian anti-trafficking funders?” Anti-Trafficking Review, issue 3, 2014, pp. 87-108.
As a sex worker support organisation, SWAN (Supporting Women’s Alternatives Network) Vancouver’s relationship to anti-trafficking funding remains ambivalent, particularly given the history of anti-trafficking measures that have jeopardised the rights of sex workers. In this article, we share how we, as a small grassroots group, attempt to work through these ambivalences in dialogue with donors. Although SWAN Vancouver works with women who are often perceived to be trafficked (i.e. Asian women in sex work), it is rare for members of SWAN Vancouver to come across any case in the sex-work sector that has the hallmarks of trafficking, such as coerced work. Instead, our anti-trafficking work has mainly involved identifying the harms and human rights violations caused by repressive or misguided anti-trafficking measures. We reflect on our dialogue with two Canadian funders (a federal government agency and a national public foundation) that have considerable resources and immense power to influence what anti-trafficking practices are implemented in Canada. We analyse how these two funders and their adoption of an anti-prostitution analysis of trafficking will likely result in punitive consequences for immigrant sex workers, and therefore increase the need to assist women who have been anti-trafficked rather than trafficked.
In Vancouver, Canada, there has been a continuous shift in the policing of sex work away from arresting sex workers, which led to the implementation of a policing strategy that explicitly prioritised the safety of sex workers and continued to target sex workers’ clients. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 26 cisgender and five transgender women street-based sex workers about their working conditions. Data were analysed thematically and by drawing on concepts of structural stigma and vulnerability. Our results indicated that despite police rhetoric of prioritising the safety of sex workers, participants were denied their citizenship rights for police protection by virtue of their ‘risky’ occupation and were thus responsiblised for sex work related violence. Our findings further suggest that sex workers’ interactions with neighbourhood residents were predominantly shaped by a discourse of sex workers as a ‘risky’ presence in the urban landscape and police took swift action in removing sex workers in the case of complaints. This study highlights that intersecting regimes of stigmatisation and criminalisation continued to undermine sex workers citizenship rights to police protection and legal recourse and perpetuated labour conditions that render sex workers at increased risk for violence and poor health.
Ross, Becki L. “Sex and (Evacuation from) the City: The Moral and Legal Regulation of Sex Workers in Vancouver’s West End, 1975—1985.” Sexualities 13.2 (2010): 197-218.
For more than a century, prostitution in Vancouver, British Columbia has been at the centre of legal and political debate, policing, media coverage, and policy-making. From 1975 to 1985, a heterogeneous, pimp-free community of sex workers lived and worked on and around Davie Street in the city’s emerging ‘gay’ West End. Their presence sparked a vigorous backlash, including vigilante action, from multiple stake-holders intent on transforming the port town into a ‘world class city’ and venerable host of the World’s Fair, ‘Expo 1986’. In this article, drawing from interviews and archival material, I examine the abolitionist strategies adopted by Vancouver’s residents’ groups, business owners, politicians, and police to criminalize street solicitation and evacuate prostitutes who, in small numbers, ‘whorganized’ to fight back. The collective disavowal of sex workers as citizens was premised on the ‘cleansing’ of the zone under siege, which became whitened and made safe for bourgeois (queer) capitalism, with lethal consequences for outdoor sex workers in the city.
Full text available here.
O’Doherty, Tamara. “Criminalization and Off-Street Sex Work in Canada 1.” Canadian journal of criminology and criminal justice 53.2 (2011): 217-245.
The research presented in this article examines women’s perceptions of how the criminal laws relating to prostitution affect the experience of working in the off-street Canadian sex industry. The results of interviews with 10 women indicate that the criminalization of prostitution has numerous effects on the health and safety of indoor workers: the workers are alienated from the protective services of police; they are often misinformed about their legal rights in Canada; they face personal, legal, and social consequences for association with a criminalized activity; their abilities to mitigate risk are severely limited by the criminalization of ancillary activities related to prostitution; and their health is directly affected by the isolation and stress that accompany marginalized labour. The participants share their advice for future regulation of the sex industry in Canada and strongly encourage the removal of adult consensual sex work from the realm of criminal behaviour in Canada.
Full text available here.