In April 2016, France adopted a new law enshrining a conception of prostitution as a form of violence against women that needed to be ‘abolished’ and setting up a complex policy framework to achieve this end. This framework comprises a criminal justice ‘pillar’ dedicated to prohibiting and punishing the purchase of sexual services, and a social service ‘pillar’ dedicated to providing financial and social support to individuals involved in selling sex—uniformly assumed to be women and systematically considered to be victims. The new policy was supposed to break from 70 years of symbolic politics characterised by ambiguous regulation, low political attention, and lax policy implementation. Drawing on documentary and interview data, and using the Gender Equality Policy in Practice framework to determine the policy’s current and potential impact on women’s rights and gender equality, this article argues that implementation of France’s new anti-prostitution policy is currently at a critical juncture. Budget reductions, a lack of central state steering, and competing policy priorities are contributing to hollowing out the policy of its capacity to support individuals wishing to exit prostitution while possibly deteriorating the working conditions of those who cannot or do not wish to exit.
Hock, Stefan. 2019. ‘To Bring About a “Moral of Renewal”: The Deportation of Sex Workers in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War’. Journal of the History of Sexuality 28 (3): 457–82.
In January 1915 European consuls in Istanbul gave the city’s police commissioner, Osman Bedri Bey, a list of names of known procurers. The accused traffickers included Russian, Argentinian, Romanian, American, Austrian, French, British, and Greek citizens. All but one of them were deported; 151 were banished from the country, 11 were sent to Sivas, and 5 were sent to Kayseri, cities in the interior of Anatolia that were far removed from the capital.1 Bedri quickly rose through the ranks of Ottoman civil officialdom as he was a close friend of Talaat, the powerful interior minister who became grand vizier in 1917. Read more…
How do vulnerable populations engage with politics? And what does politics mean to them? Building on four months of ethnographic fieldwork and 15 semistructured interviews with sex workers in Kropyvnyts’kyi, Ukraine, I show how informal political practices are employed by marginalised groups like sex workers to promote their agenda of the normalisation of sex work. Examining sex workers’ activism in Ukraine through empowerment strategies and resistance politics, I enquire about formal and informal political strategies that sex workers resort to, how these strategies are used, and whether informal political practices can lead to the community’s empowerment. With a focus primarily on street sex workers who are engaged in community organisation, I show how a controversial topic such as sex can be utilised by sex workers to attract attention to their marginalised situation and politicise their activism. Complicating the discussion of politics and political participation by viewing it through the lens of feminist anthropology, this paper attempts to contribute to the discussion about women’s empowerment and to expand the category of “political practice” and “political activism.” This paper concludes that Kropyvnyts’kyi sex workers often resort to small-scale political tactics in order to probe the limits of political possibility.
The representation of sex work in the media has received little to no attention in the field of linguistics and discourse analysis. Given that news discourse can have a huge impact on public opinions, ideologies and norms, and the setting of political agendas and policies (van Dijk 1989), the study adopts a Corpus-Assisted Critical Discourse Analysis (CACDA) approach (Baker, Gabrielatos, KhosraviNik, Krzyżanowski, McEnery & Wodak 2008), seeking to explore whether journalists reproduce or challenge negative stereotypes vis-à-vis sex work. Examining 82 articles published in three Greek newspapers (Kathimerini, TA NEA, Efimerida ton Syntakton) in 2017, this paper considers the lexico-grammatical choices that are typically involved in the representation of sex work and sex workers in the Press. Drawing on Systemic Functional Linguistics, the Discourse Historical Approach and corpus linguistics, the analysis links the textual findings (micro-level context) with the discourse practice context (meso-context) as well as the social context in which sex work occurs (macro-context). Findings illustrate that although sex work in Greece has been legalised for about two decades, traces of abolitionist discourses can be found in the Press, building barriers in the emancipatory efforts of sex workers who stand up for having equal civil and labour rights as their fellow citizens.
The aim of this study was to explore the relationship between possible violence suffered by female sex workers in their intimate relationships, with their affects, coping strategies, and emotional regulation to overcome such violence and improve their well-being. Structured personal interviews were carried out with female sex workers in three different settings: street, club, and flats. The sample was composed of 137 Spanish female sex workers (85.4% are foreign and 20% Spanish-born sex workers). High levels of tension and problems with their partners were linked to an affective imbalance and poor well-being. Positive affectivity determined the use of adaptive strategies, whereas negative affectivity predicted dysfunctional strategies. Three different path analyses and theoretical support concluded that self-control was the only strategy related to improve well-being in female sex workers who reported lower potential tension and difficulty in their intimate relationships. In contrast, inhibition was associated with an increase on distress levels when negative affectivity predominated and sex workers had reported potential tension and difficulty situations with their partners. It was a cross-sectional study, and thus we cannot infer causality or direction from the observed associations. Given these findings, violence prevention strategies in the intimate relationships should be prioritized in the prostitution context.
The local regulation of prostitution in Germany is a contested area of urban politics. In this issue area, morality claims intersect with the material interests of home- and landowners and the security demands of ‘ordinary’ citizens. The Prostitution Law of 2001 has liberalized the legal framework: the legislation ‘normalized’ sex work, triggering the re-definition of urban strategies to regulate prostitution. This article analyses the conflict dynamics and the framing of conflicts over regulations in four German cities. It identifies the main actors, coalition-building processes and the framing of conflicts, and links these elements to the resulting policies. With regard to theory, it explores the relevance of classical explanatory approaches to local governance such as party politics, urban growth coalitions, political culture and bureaucratic politics to the value-laden issue of prostitution. It thereby contributes to the growing academic interest in the nature of morality policies and the question of the specific conditions under which prostitution is framed as a moral issue or as a ‘normal’ subject within urban politics.
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.