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Tag Archives: Human Rights

Hu, Ran. 2019. ‘Examining Social Service Providers’ Representation of Trafficking Victims: A Feminist Postcolonial Lens’. Affilia, August, 0886109919868832. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886109919868832.
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As anti-trafficking social service providers (SSPs) facilitate the process of victim recovery and empowerment, they also participate in the dissemination of trafficking-related knowledge to the general public. Drawing on a feminist postcolonial framework, this study sought to examine how anti-trafficking SSPs represent trafficking victims in written narratives published on their organizational websites. Thirty-three narratives were drawn from the websites of 10 New York–based anti-trafficking SSPs. Despite the widespread adoption of a strength-based term, “survivor,” the narratives were found to reinforce a gendered and racialized representation of trafficking victims as sex trafficked women from the “global South” and to (re)produce many “ideal” trafficking victim stereotypes that have been dominating the current discourses of trafficking. A “life transformation” discourse was pervasive, discursively foregrounding the positive impact of the SSPs on trafficking survivors. The findings suggested a need for anti-trafficking SSPs to engage with critical reflection on their positionality and intentionality in representing trafficking victims/survivors and to adopt a survivor-led storytelling paradigm. This study also provided a timely reminder for social work practitioners and researchers to continue to challenge the dominant narratives embedded in their fields of practice, to exercise critical self-reflexivity, and to provide a discursive space for those who have been deprived of voices.

Della Giusta, Marina & Di Tommaso, Maria Laura & Jewell, Sarah & Bettio, Francesca, 2019. “Quashing Demand Criminalizing Clients? Evidence from the UK,” IZA Discussion Papers 12405, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
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We discuss changes in the demand for paid sex accompanying the criminalization of prostitution in the United Kingdom, which moved from a relatively permissive regime under the Wolfenden Report of 1960, to a much harder line of aiming to crack down on prostitution with the Prostitution (Public Places) Scotland Act 2007 and the Policing and Crime Act of 2009 in England and Wales. We make use of two waves of a representative survey, the British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal2, conducted in 2000-2001 and Natsal3, conducted in 2010-2012) to illustrate the changes in demand that have taken place across the two waves. We do not find demand decreasing in our sample and find a shift in the composition of demand towards more risky clients, which we discuss in the context of the current trends towards criminalization of prostitution.
Full article available here.
Garofalo Geymonat, Giulia. „Disability Rights Meet Sex Workers’ Rights: The Making of Sexual Assistance in Europe“. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 2. Februar 2019. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-019-0377-x.
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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.

Brunovskis, Anette, und May-Len Skilbrei. „Individual or Structural Inequality? Access and Barriers in Welfare Services for Women Who Sell Sex“. Social Inclusion 6, Nr. 3 (28. September 2018): 310–18. https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v6i3.1534.
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It is often taken for granted that women who sell sex are vulnerable, that welfare services can and should alleviate this vulnerability, and as such, being defined as ‘vulnerable’ can be beneficial and associated with special rights that would otherwise be inaccessible. At the same time, ongoing debates have demonstrated that establishing individuals and groups as vulnerable tends to mask structural factors in inequality and has negative consequences, among them an idea that the path to ‘non-vulnerability’ lies in changing the ‘afflicted’ individuals or groups, not in structures or in addressing unequal access to resources. In this article, we take this as a starting point and discuss challenges for the welfare state in meeting the varied and often complex needs of sex sellers. Based on qualitative research with service providers in specialised social and health services in Norway, we examine access and barriers to services among female sex sellers as well as how vulnerability is understood and shapes what services are available. An important feature of modern prostitution in Norway, as in the rest of Western Europe, is that sex sellers are predominantly migrants with varying migration status and corresponding rights to services. This has influenced the options available to address prostitution as a phenomenon within the welfare state and measures that have previously been helpful for domestic women in prostitution are not easily replicated for the current target population. A starting point in a theoretical understanding that considers vulnerability to be a human predicament (rather than the exception to the rule or a deficit in individuals or groups) allows for a discussion that highlights the centrality of structural conditions rather than a need for change in the individual. In order to understand the limitations of the welfare state in addressing modern prostitution as such, it is highly relevant to look at the structural origin of vulnerabilities that may look individual.
Pitcher, Jane. „Intimate Labour and the State: Contrasting Policy Discourses with the Working Experiences of Indoor Sex Workers“. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 2. März 2018, 1–13.
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Drawing on an interview-based study with indoor-based sex workers of different genders in Great Britain, this paper explores the disparity between dominant policy representations of sex workers and the working lives of people selling intimate services. I argue certain policy discourses reinforce narratives of vulnerability and coercion when discussing female sex workers and responses to perceived ‘problems’ of prostitution and neglect the needs of male and transgender sex workers. I contrast messages in policy discourses with the experiences of sex workers across indoor sectors. My study found considerable diversity in working experiences, influenced by factors such as work setting, personal circumstances and aspirations. While some people may view sex work as a short-term option, for others it represents a longer-term career. For some, sex work may offer greater job satisfaction and control over working conditions than other jobs available. Nonetheless, external constraints sometimes make it difficult for them to work safely. I argue state discourses fail to reflect the diverse experiences of sex workers and undermine their agency, perpetuating disrespect and excluding them from human and labour rights. I suggest the need to consider policy approaches shaped according to varied circumstances and settings, drawing on the expertise of sex workers.


Drawing upon over a decade of research in our respective communities, we argue that the intergenerational socioeconomic insecurities and violence prevalent in the lives of North American street-involved women, their families, and others in their social circles constitute a set of shared precarities. Taking both socioinstitutional and interpersonal forms, shared precarities obviate the women’s rights to access the lived experience and social status of motherhood. Yet they also engender maternal subjectivities reflective of the ambivalence, temporal ambiguity, and interconnections between family and state structures that characterize the women’s child custody arrangements. These maternal subjectivities, and the shared precarities that give rise to them, emphasize how individual members of marginalized communities cope with violence generated by the legitimation of particular family forms and devaluation/criminalization of others.