The regulation of sex work continues to be a divisive topic in England and internationally. Policies governing the policing of the sex industry in England are continually revised and debated, but are seldom grounded in empirical evidence of sex workers’ experiences. Based on 49 qualitative interviews with sex workers in England, this article finds that indoor sex workers had far more positive experiences with the police than outdoor sex workers. Despite this difference, both indoor and outdoor sex workers perceive their interactions with the police through the lens of their stigmatized status as sex workers and do not expect respectful treatment by the police. This article presents compelling evidence that an enforcement-led approach to policing creates insuperable barriers to the success of protective policing.
Guest Editors: Stef Adriaenssens, Giulia Garofalo Geymonat and Laura Oso
Quality of Work in Prostitution and Sex Work: Introduction to the Special Section
Stef Adriaenssens, Giulia Garofalo Geymonat and Laura Oso
On Our Own Terms: The Working Conditions of Internet-Based Sex Workers in the UK
Teela Sanders, Laura Connelly and Laura Jarvis King
Work Conditions and Job Mobility in the Australian Indoor Sex Industry
Fairleigh Evelyn Gilmour
Too Much Suffering’: Understanding the Interplay Between Migration, Bounded Exploitation and Trafficking Through Nigerian Sex Workers’ Experiences
Precarious or Protected? Evaluating Work Quality in the Legal Sex Industry
Transnational Social Mobility Strategies and Quality of Work Among Latin-American Women Sex Workers in Spain
Ambivalent Professionalisation and Autonomy in Workers’ Collective Projects: The Cases of Sex Worker Peer Educators in Germany and Sexual Assistants in Switzerland
Giulia Garofalo Geymonat and P.G. Macioti
Sex work is defined from a liberal-feminist view as the negotiating and provision of sexual services by adults in return for payment. In Switzerland, sex work is basically legal and tolerated. The present study does not problematize the nature of sex work. It is considered here as a form of gainful employment rather than deviant behaviour, sexual risk behaviour or violence per se. In a qualitative study using problem focused guided interviews, 13 managers of brothels and contact bars in a Swiss city were questioned about their organizing of work, about working conditions, violence and its prevention. The content analysis of the data (Mayring, 2007) generated a manager typology (based on Kelle and Kluge, 1999). The results project four manager types: (I) collegial all-rounders who run small establishments; (II) co-operative managers of medium-size commercial premises; (III) authoritarian managers of medium-size and large brothels or contact bars and (IV) self-sacrificing managers of medium-size brothels. In respect to violence, these four types are characterized by association with differential degrees of potential risk for sex workers. While types I and IV can be classified as more risky in relation to violence and safety due to their specific characteristics, types II and III are clearly less dangerous for the sex workers. All the managers have introduced protective measures to prevent violence, yet they do not have a specific (explicitly formulated) strategy. In conclusion, the study shows that structural basic conditions and specific organizational working conditions impact on the risk of violence.
Drawing on research in the UK and the Netherlands, this article considers the respective legislative backgrounds, recent policy changes and their implication for sex workers in off-street environments. It considers the impact of different regulatory models on the employment rights, safety and welfare of sex workers and explores how working conditions in different indoor settings might be improved through legal and policy changes. We argue that although decriminalization of sex work is a precondition to secure the labour and human rights of sex workers, the involvement of sex workers in policy development and facilitation of different modes of working are necessary to improve their working conditions and autonomy.