Between 1360 and 1460 the Venetian government established a system of legalized prostitution under the supervision of government officials and confined, in theory, to a limited area of the city. The authorities also attempted to concentrate the management of licit brothels in the hands of women, who thereby emerged as the effective entrepreneurs of the sex trade. This article describes the organization of Venetian prostitution in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries and the relations among government officials, brothel-keepers, and prostitutes. It illustrates the mechanisms of debt and credit used in the sex trade, which often kept the prostitutes subservient to the brothel-keepers and to their other creditors. An effort is made to assess the degree to which sex workers might become integrated into local society and to suggest the general trends in Venetian policy toward prostitution into the sixteenth century.
The last decade has seen an expansion in initiatives promoting the development of special sex services oriented to people with disabilities, which in Europe are increasingly labelled ‘sexual assistance’. These have become the object of political and media attention, and arguably call for a critical analysis incorporating both disability and sex workers’ rights perspectives. Based on an 18-month embedded participant observation, I explore the case of a grassroots organisation which brings together sexual assistants, disabled activists and (potential) clients, and their allies in Switzerland. Opposing ‘therapy’, ‘charity’, and ‘care’ approaches to sexual assistance, members of this organisation work within their own model of ‘ethical’ services. While they place sexual pleasure at the centre of this approach, in practice, they promote forms of self-regulation aimed at limiting the risks of sex services, connected in particular to intimate violence, stigmatisation, sex normativity, and the role of intermediaries. Clearly rooted in a disability rights perspective, this grassroots initiative does not only concern sexual assistance but more largely sex services. In this sense, this study invites us to look at sexual assistance as an interesting space for alliance between sex workers’ rights and the rights of people with disabilities, as a uniquely politicised group of (potential) clients.
In this paper, police files and court cases from the Copenhagen City Court from the late 1930s are used as a window into the ways in which the living conditions and everyday life on the street unfolded among ‘prostitute’ women in poor inner-city neighbourhoods. Bourdieu’s notion of habitus is employed to analyse the social conditions under which the women became ‘prostitutes’, and the tricks of the trade that it was necessary to learn in order to ‘work the streets’ in poor inner-city neighbourhoods in a transforming Copenhagen in the 1930s.
Knowledge about trafficking in human beings has several implications for various social service and justice professionals. The aim of this study was to examine the knowledge of social service and justice professionals regarding the characterization of this phenomenon and anti-trafficking policies in Portugal. Four hundred and forty-six social service and justice professionals completed an online Human Trafficking Knowledge survey. The results revealed that Portuguese professionals have, in general, a good level of knowledge about trafficking in human beings, revealing higher-level scores for issues, such as trafficking in human beings’ idiosyncrasies and purposes in Portugal, trafficker profiles, criminal behaviour, victim profiles and victimization dynamics. On the other hand, participants scored lower in trafficking in human being’s trajectories and specificities within Portugal. This knowledge appeared to be influenced by variables, such as professional experience, previous contact with trafficking and training in trafficking in human beings. National policies must promote professional formal training about trafficking in human beings in different areas.
Many studies have demonstrated the prominent role legal frameworks and local policies play in the shaping of prostitution, by informing to a large extent the conditions governing the exercise of the sex trade, while promoting a certain definition of this activity and its protagonists. However, the role of private organizations delegated the mission of providing social or medical assistance to people selling sex should not be overlooked. These organizations are still under-researched, despite the fact that they often occupy a pivotal position between those involved in the sex trade, public authorities, and the general population. Our contribution aims to provide an overview of the relevant landscape of third sector organizations in both Belgium and France and, more specifically, retrace the genesis of associations that have implemented programs to prevent sexually transmitted infections. We will also examine their relations with the public authorities and the legitimacy they enjoy in each country, before highlighting their potential influence on the structuring of representations and regulation of prostitution.