This article explores the understudied and undertheorized role that fiscal policies play in shaping the relationship between the state and sex workers. It highlights the importance of looking at tax policy and its implementation to understand how inequality is reinforced against sexually marginalized populations. Drawing on the Italian case, it explores the ways in which ambiguous taxation arrangements operate to penalize sex workers, excluding them from the status of full taxpayer citizenship, and demonizing them as individuals who exploit the fiscal system at the expense of “good” tax-paying citizens. Fiscal policies, I argue, need to be considered in the context of the governance of prostitution as social mechanisms that have the potential to contribute to the sexual and economic citizenship of this marginalized population, but which, when unequal and ambiguous, reinforce the social and political liminality of sex workers as lesser citizens, and add to the stigma, damaging stereotypes and violence already waged against them. The complex ways in which inequality against sex workers is maintained is revealed as a dynamic process that reflects the ever-shifting interplay of economics and morality.
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.
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.
Over the last two decades sexuality has emerged as a key theme in debates about citizenship, leading to the development of the concept of sexual citizenship. This article reviews this literature and identifies four main areas of critical framing: work that contests the significance of sexuality to citizenship; critiques that focus on the possibilities and limitations of mobilising the language of citizenship in sexual politics; analyses of sexual citizenship in relation to nationalisms and border making; and literature that critically examines western constructions of sexuality and sexual politics underpinning understandings of sexual citizenship. In order to progress the field theoretically, the article seeks to extend critiques of sexual citizenship focusing on two key aspects of its construction: the sexual citizen-subject and spaces of sexual citizenship. It argues for a critical rethink that encompasses a de-centring of a ‘western-centric’ focus in order to advance understandings of how sexual citizenship operates both in the Global North and South.
This book resets the agenda on sex trafficking. Methodologically daring, it brings poststructuralist approaches on migration, labour and political subjectivities to existing studies on European integration, labour markets and gender-based violence. By linking a number of scholarly debates and discursive areas that are not commonly brought together in studies on sex trafficking, this study sets out to expose the link between sex trafficking and the constitution of citizenship, and advance a scholarly re-conceptualization of ‘sex trafficking’ grounded in the particularity of the European situation. Based on original ethnographic interviews with migrant women in the sex sector, the book shifts the theorization of sex trafficking away from the criminalization paradigm and towards a new theory of agency and citizenship.