Tag Archives: Labour

The article explores how Czechoslovakia reacted to the persistence of prostitution during State Socialism (1948-1989) when its underlying Marxist-Leninist ideology predicted that it should disappear with the overthrow of capitalism. The paper adopts a law in context approach, critically analysing legal instruments as well as expert commentaries by social scientists, legal scholars, judges and prosecutors from the period.

It argues that while the Czechoslovak state attempted to suppress prostitution through criminal law, conceptualizing it as ‘parasitism’, many of the State Socialist experts ultimately fell back on the extra-legal normative system of gender. Women in prostitution were condemned for their sexually promiscuous behaviour while all women were blamed for failing in their gender roles as good women, wives and mothers. Whereas the official policy was thus enforcing socialist morality, the experts reverted to traditional bourgeois morality, in clear betrayal of the promises of both Marxism-Leninism and the State Socialist ideology as regards the equality of the sexes.

The heightened responsibility all women were given to prevent prostitution was unique. State Socialist Czechoslovakia is thus more than yet another case study of a repressive regime that controls and punishes the more vulnerable side of the prostitution transaction and apportions blame in a gendered way. Instead, it demonstrates how prostitution can become a vehicle for promoting and upholding traditional gender norms not only towards women in prostitution, but all women in society.

Full article available here.
Choo, Hae Yeon. “In the Shadow of Working Men: Gendered Labor and Migrant Rights in South Korea.” Qualitative Sociology, July 16, 2016, 1–21. doi:10.1007/s11133-016-9332-9.
Based on ethnographic research in South Korea, this article investigates the gendered production of migrant rights under the global regime of temporary migration by examining two groups of Filipina women: factory workers and hostesses at American military camptown clubs. Emphasizing gendered labor processes and symbolic politics, this article offers an analytical framework to interrogate the mechanisms through which a discrepancy of rights is generated at the intersection of workplace organization and civil society mobilization. I identify two distinct labor regimes for migrant women that were shaped in the shadow of working men. Migrant women in the factories labored in the company of working men on the shop floor, which enabled them to form a co-ethnic migrant community and utilize the male-centered bonding between workers and employers. In contrast, migrant hostesses were isolated and experienced gendered stigma under the paternalistic rule of employers. Divergent forms of civil society mobilization in South Korea sustained these regimes: Migrant factory workers received recognition as workers without attention to gender-specific concerns while hostesses were construed as women victims in need of protection. Thus, Filipina factory workers were able to exercise greater labor rights by sharing the dignity of workers as a basis for their rights claims from which hostesses were excluded.

Lin Lean Lim (International Institute for Labour Studies, International Labour Organization), “Trafficking, Demand and the Sex Market” Paper presented at the International Symposium on Gender at the Heart of Globalization, Paris, March 2007.


Trafficking in persons has emerged high on international, regional and national agendas as a forced labour issue involving particular supply-demand factors in imperfect labour markets at origin and destination. The ILO defines forced labour as all work or service that is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered herself or himself voluntarily. Forced labour involves violation of human rights and restriction on human freedom, slavery and slavery-like practices, debt bondage and servitude. Women and men, girls are boys are trafficked, but gender, socio-cultural and market biases determine the type and severity of forced labour in different sectors. The ILO estimated in 2004 that 2.45 million people in forced labour had been trafficked across international boundaries. Of these about 43 per cent had been destined for sexual exploitation, and a third for economic exploitation. Of those trafficked for prostitution, 98 per cent were women and girls.

Until recently, efforts to tackle trafficking tended to focus on the supply side with measures aimed at addressing the conditions, in particular poverty and unemployment, that drive people to leave their home in the first place. Attention has now shifted to the demand side of trafficking, in particular the demand for trafficked persons’ services in the sex market.

The presentation emphasizes that trafficking should not be conflated with prostitution and that a “prohibitionist” or “abolitionist” approach to end demand in the sex market is not an effective solution to tackle trafficking. It examines demand and the demand side of trafficking and the particular characteristics of the market for commercial sexual services, including the economic and social bases of the market. The challenge we face is to address the real root causes of trafficking – the reasons why people migrate and are trafficked and the reasons why other people are able to traffic them. It is not enough merely to regulate the sex market; we need to address the areas of vulnerability. At the same time, the related – and perhaps more difficult – challenge is to place the respect for and protection of human rights at the centre of all measures to combat trafficking and to disentangle human rights concerns from morality biases concerning prostitution.

Full text available here.

BEFORE 1980, THE PROSTITUTE was “pornographic.” Few historians considered prostitution an important topic, and studies of the subject commonly played to the sensational and salacious.’ The small body of significant scholarship concentrated on ideas, social movements, and campaigns to control or abolish prostitution.2 Other serious works focused on cities with red-light districts, emphasizing the most visible and elite forms of prostitution.3 Additional investigations were buried in monographs and theses devoted to crime, deviancy, hospitals, and public hygiene.4 Historians, in the words of Alain Corbin, “remained haunted by the ancient links between the prostitute, rotting flesh, corpses, and filth.”‘5 While recent historians of prostitution have hardly become metaphoric under- takers unearthing “rotting flesh” and “corpses,” they have complicated the subject in ways unanticipated a generation ago. In less than two decades, more than a score of scholarly monographs on prostitution have appeared….
You can read the article online for free after registration at JSTOR.
RESEARCH ON SEX WORK IN CANADA tends to analyse the ways in which the Canadian Criminal Code contributes to stigma, discrimination, and violence toward sex workers. (1) The negative implications of criminalization have been well documented in sexuality studies, women’s studies, policy studies, and criminal justice studies research, not to mention by the courts themselves. In September 2010, a pronouncement by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (2) ruled that the sections of the Criminal Code which seek to prohibit aspects of prostitution are not congruent with the principles of justice as protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (3) In effect, the ruling supported the decriminalization of many common work-related activities, for example: working from a fixed location, including one’s own home; hiring a driver or a bodyguard; and communicating in public for the purposes of engaging a client for services. The federal government appealed, and in March 2012 the Ontario Court of Appeal released its decision which again supported partial decriminalization. (4) The section of the decision regarding bawdy-houses includes a twelve month stay, which gives policy makers, politicians, sex workers, and labour organizers a limited amount of time to make recommendations and decisions about how to best regulate and organize indoor sex work.

While it is well documented that the criminalization of sex work increases harm and violence, the specific effects of criminalization on the organization of labour within the sex industry is considerably less documented. (5) As Becki Ross argues, “sex-free labour studies alongside work-free sexuality studies within Canadian social history has meant that the rich registers of ‘sexuality’ and ‘labour’ have rarely been placed systematically in relation to, and in tension with, one another.” (6) As such, this article broadens the scope of analysis related to sex work and criminalization by looking at its labour-related consequences.

Full article available here.
Street-based sex work is commonly portrayed as a social nuisance in the urban landscape. However, a wealth of research has shown how sex workers on the street experience frequent harassment from other members of the public in the course of their work. This article explores the experience of street harassment among women working on the street in New Zealand, where sex work is decriminalized. In this article, I consider the social, legal, and cultural factors that underpin the street harassment that the women described. I consider the significance of this form of harassment when situated in the “workplace” of street workers in a decriminalized street-based sex industry. I argue that these experiences are inextricably linked to the continued subordination of women in contemporary society and to social norms regarding female sexuality. I argue that challenging this harassment is critical in supporting the human rights of street-based sex workers, but that doing so requires a fundamental shift in societal views on women and sexuality in general.
Social Policy and Society, January 2015: Themed Section on The Cultural Study of Commercial Sex: Taking a Policy Perspective.
Berg, Heather. “Trafficking Policy, Meaning Making and State Violence.” Social Policy and Society 14, no. 01 (2015): 145–55. doi:10.1017/S1474746414000414.
Carline, Anna, and Jane Scoular. “Saving Fallen Women Now? Critical Perspectives on Engagement and Support Orders and Their Policy of Forced Welfarism.” Social Policy and Society 14, no. 01 (2015): 103–12. doi:10.1017/S1474746414000347.
Hammond, Natalie. “Men Who Pay for Sex and the Sex Work Movement? Client Responses to Stigma and Increased Regulation of Commercial Sex Policy.” Social Policy and Society 14, no. 01 (2015): 93–102. doi:10.1017/S1474746414000360.
———. “Some Useful Sources.” Social Policy and Society 14, no. 01 (2015): 157–59. doi:10.1017/S1474746414000451.
Hammond, Natalie, and Feona Attwood. “Introduction: The Cultural Study of Commercial Sex: Taking a Policy Perspective.” Social Policy and Society 14, no. 01 (2015): 79–82. doi:10.1017/S147474641400044X.
Pettinger, Lynne. “The Judgement Machine: Markets, Internet Technologies and Policies in Commercial Sex.” Social Policy and Society 14, no. 01 (2015): 135–43. doi:10.1017/S1474746414000311
Pitcher, Jane. “Sex Work and Modes of Self-Employment in the Informal Economy: Diverse Business Practices and Constraints to Effective Working.” Social Policy and Society 14, no. 01 (2015): 113–23. doi:10.1017/S1474746414000426. OPEN ACCESS
Prior, Jason, and Penny Crofts. “Is Your House a Brothel? Prostitution Policy, Provision of Sex Services from Home, and the Maintenance of Respectable Domesticity.” Social Policy and Society 14, no. 01 (2015): 125–34. doi:10.1017/S1474746414000335.
Sanders, Teela, Kate Hardy, and Rosie Campbell. “Regulating Strip-Based Entertainment: Sexual Entertainment Venue Policy and the Ex/Inclusion of Dancers’ Perspectives and Needs.” Social Policy and Society 14, no. 01 (2015): 83–92. doi:10.1017/S1474746414000323.