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Tag Archives: Migrant sex workers


Reading Sex Work” – Special Issue of South Atlantic Quarterly 120(3), 2021.

Berg, Heather. 2021. ‘Reading Sex Work: An Introduction’. South Atlantic Quarterly 120 (3): 485–91. https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-9154856.

babylon, femi, and Heather Berg. 2021. ‘Erotic Labor within and without Work: An Interview with Femi Babylon’. South Atlantic Quarterly 120 (3): 631–40. https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-9154955.

Carlisle, Vanessa. 2021. ‘“Sex Work Is Star Shaped”: Antiwork Politics and the Value of Embodied Knowledge’. South Atlantic Quarterly 120 (3): 573–90. https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-9154927.

Glover, Julian Kevon. 2021. ‘Customer Service Representatives: Sex Work among Black Transgender Women in Chicago’s Ballroom Scene’. South Atlantic Quarterly 120 (3): 553–71. https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-9154913.

Hardy, Kate, and Camille Barbagallo. 2021. ‘Hustling the Platform: Capitalist Experiments and Resistance in the Digital Sex Industry’. South Atlantic Quarterly 120 (3): 533–51. https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-9154898.

McClanahan, Annie, and Jon-David Settell. 2021. ‘Service Work, Sex Work, and the “Prostitute Imaginary”’. South Atlantic Quarterly 120 (3): 493–514. https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-9154870.

Mitchell, Gregory, and Thaddeus Blanchette. 2021. ‘Tricks of the Light: Refractive Masculinity in Heterosexual and Homosexual Brothels in Rio de Janeiro’. South Atlantic Quarterly 120 (3): 609–29. https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-9154941.

Shah, Svati P. 2021. ‘Impossible Migrants: Debating Sex Work and Gender Identity amid the Crisis of Migrant Labor’. South Atlantic Quarterly 120 (3): 515–32. https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-9154884.

Swift, Jayne. 2021. ‘Toxic Positivity?: Rethinking Respectability, Revaluing Pleasure’. South Atlantic Quarterly 120 (3): 591–608. https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-9423071.


You can find a list of special journal issues focusing on sex work here.

Mai, Nicola, P. G. Macioti, Calum Bennachie, Anne E. Fehrenbacher, Calogero Giametta, Heidi Hoefinger, and Jennifer Musto. ‘Migration, Sex Work and Trafficking: The Racialized Bordering Politics of Sexual Humanitarianism’. Ethnic and Racial Studies 0, no. 0 (10 March 2021): 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2021.1892790.

Abstract

The article presents the findings of the SEXHUM project studying the impact of the different policies targeting migrant sex workers in Australia, France, New Zealand, and the United States. It draws on the concept of sexual humanitarianism, referring to how neoliberal constructions of vulnerability associated with sexual behaviour are implicated in humanitarian forms of support and control of migrant populations. Based on over three years of fieldwork we examine the differential ways in which Asian cis women and Latina trans women are constructed and targeted as vulnerable to exploitation, violence and abuse, or not, in relation to racialized and cis-centric sexual humanitarian canons of victimhood. Through our comparative analysis we expose how the implication of sexual humanitarian rhetoric in increasingly extreme bordering policies and interventions on migrant sex workers impacts on their lives and rights, arguing for the urgent need for social reform informed by the experiences of these groups.

Hoefinger, Heidi, Jennifer Musto, PG Macioti, Anne E Fehrenbacher, Nicola Mai, Calum Bennachie, Calogero Giametta (2020) Community-Based Responses to Negative Health Impacts of Sexual Humanitarian Anti-Trafficking Policies and the Criminalization of Sex Work and Migration in the US, Social Sciences, Special Issue: Sex Work, Gender Justice and the Law, 2020, 9(1), 1-30,  https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci9010001

Abstract

System‐involvement resulting from anti‐trafficking interventions and the criminalization of sex work and migration results in negative health impacts on sex workers, migrants, and people with trafficking experiences. Due to their stigmatized status, sex workers and people with trafficking experiences often struggle to access affordable, unbiased, and supportive health care. This paper will use thematic analysis of qualitative data from in‐depth interviews and ethnographic fieldwork with 50 migrant sex workers and trafficked persons, as well as 20 key informants from legal and social services, in New York and Los Angeles. It will highlight the work of trans‐specific and sex worker–led initiatives that are internally addressing gaps in health care and the negative health consequences that result from sexual humanitarian anti‐trafficking interventions that include policing, arrest, court‐involvement, court‐mandated social services, incarceration, and immigration detention. Our analysis focuses on the impact of the criminalization on sex workers and their experiences with sexual humanitarian efforts intended to protect and control them. We argue that these grassroots community‐based efforts are a survival‐oriented reaction to the harms of criminalization and a response to vulnerabilities left unattended by mainstream sexual humanitarian approaches to protection and service provision that frame sex work itself as the problem. Peer‐to‐peer interventions such as these create solidarity and resiliency within marginalized communities, which act as protective buffers against institutionalized systemic violence and the resulting negative health outcomes. Our results suggest that broader public health support and funding for community‐led health initiatives are needed to reduce barriers to health care resulting from stigma, criminalization, and ineffective anti‐trafficking and humanitarian efforts. We conclude that the decriminalization of sex work and the reform of institutional practices in the US are urgently needed to reduce the overall negative health outcomes of system‐ involvement.

Hoefinger, Heidi, Jennifer Musto, P. G. Macioti, Anne E. Fehrenbacher, Nicola Mai, Calum Bennachie, and Calogero Giametta. 2020. ‘Community-Based Responses to Negative Health Impacts of Sexual Humanitarian Anti-Trafficking Policies and the Criminalization of Sex Work and Migration in the US’. Social Sciences 9 (1): 1. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci9010001.

Abstract

System-involvement resulting from anti-trafficking interventions and the criminalization of sex work and migration results in negative health impacts on sex workers, migrants, and people with trafficking experiences. Due to their stigmatized status, sex workers and people with trafficking experiences often struggle to access affordable, unbiased, and supportive health care. This paper will use thematic analysis of qualitative data from in-depth interviews and ethnographic fieldwork with 50 migrant sex workers and trafficked persons, as well as 20 key informants from legal and social services, in New York and Los Angeles. It will highlight the work of trans-specific and sex worker–led initiatives that are internally addressing gaps in health care and the negative health consequences that result from sexual humanitarian anti-trafficking interventions that include policing, arrest, court-involvement, court-mandated social services, incarceration, and immigration detention. Our analysis focuses on the impact of criminalization on sex workers and their experiences with sexual humanitarian efforts intended to protect and control them. We argue that these grassroots community-based efforts are a survival-oriented reaction to the harms of criminalization and a response to vulnerabilities left unattended by mainstream sexual humanitarian approaches to protection and service provision that frame sex work itself as the problem. Peer-to-peer interventions such as these create solidarity and resiliency within marginalized communities, which act as protective buffers against institutionalized systemic violence and the resulting negative health outcomes. Our results suggest that broader public health support and funding for community-led health initiatives are needed to reduce barriers to health care resulting from stigma, criminalization, and ineffective anti-trafficking and humanitarian efforts. We conclude that the decriminalization of sex work and the reform of institutional practices in the US are urgently needed to reduce the overall negative health outcomes of system-involvement. View Full-Text

Sexual Commerce: Troubling Meanings, Policies, and Practices” – Special Issue of Sexuality Research and Social Policy 16(2), June 2019.

Crowhurst, Isabel. 2019. ‘The Ambiguous Taxation of Prostitution: The Role of Fiscal Arrangements in Hindering the Sexual and Economic Citizenship of Sex Workers’. Sexuality Research and Social Policy 16 (2): 166–78. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-018-0368-3.

Crowhurst, Isabel, Niina Vuolajärvi, and Kathryn Hausbeck Korgan. 2019. ‘Sexual Commerce: Troubling Meanings, Policies, and Practices’. Sexuality Research and Social Policy 16 (2): 135–37. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-019-00390-4.

David, Marion. 2019. ‘The Moral and Political Stakes of Health Issues in the Regulation of Prostitution (the Cases of Belgium and France)’. Sexuality Research and Social Policy 16 (2): 201–13. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-018-0333-1.

De Lisio, Amanda, Philip Hubbard, and Michael Silk. 2019. ‘Economies of (Alleged) Deviance: Sex Work and the Sport Mega-Event’. Sexuality Research and Social Policy 16 (2): 179–89. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-018-0319-z.

Garofalo Geymonat, Giulia. 2019. ‘Disability Rights Meet Sex Workers’ Rights: The Making of Sexual Assistance in Europe’. Sexuality Research and Social Policy 16 (2): 214–26. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-019-0377-x.

Kuhar, Roman, and Mojca Pajnik. 2019. ‘Negotiating Professional Identities: Male Sex Workers in Slovenia and the Impact of Online Technologies’. Sexuality Research and Social Policy 16 (2): 227–38. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-018-0330-4.

Outshoorn, Joyce. 2019. ‘Ward, Eilís and Gillian Wylie (Eds.), Feminism, Prostitution and the State. The Politics of Neo-Abolitionism’. Sexuality Research and Social Policy 16 (2): 251–53. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-018-0369-2.

Petrunov, Georgi. 2019. ‘Elite Prostitution in Bulgaria: Experiences and Practices of Brokers’. Sexuality Research and Social Policy 16 (2): 239–50. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-018-0353-x.

Pitcher, Jane. 2019. ‘Intimate Labour and the State: Contrasting Policy Discourses with the Working Experiences of Indoor Sex Workers’. Sexuality Research and Social Policy 16 (2): 138–50. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-018-0323-3.

Stapele, Naomi van, Lorraine Nencel, and Ida Sabelis. 2019. ‘On Tensions and Opportunities: Building Partnerships Between Government and Sex Worker-Led Organizations in Kenya in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS’. Sexuality Research and Social Policy 16 (2): 190–200. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-018-0337-x.

Vuolajärvi, Niina. 2019. ‘Governing in the Name of Caring—the Nordic Model of Prostitution and Its Punitive Consequences for Migrants Who Sell Sex’. Sexuality Research and Social Policy 16 (2): 151–65. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-018-0338-9.

Dadhania, Pooja, Deporting Undesirable Women (October 2, 2018). 9 UC Irvine L. Rev. 53 (2018); California Western School of Law Research Paper No. 18-15. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3259599
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Abstract
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Immigration law has long labeled certain categories of immigrants “undesirable.” One of the longest-standing of these categories is women who sell sex. Current immigration laws subject sellers of sex to an inconsistent array of harsh immigration penalties, including bars to entry to the United States as well as mandatory detention and removal. A historical review of prostitution-related immigration laws reveals troubling origins. Grounded in turn-of-the-twentieth-century morality, these laws singled out female sellers of sex as immoral and as threats to American marriages and families. Indeed, the first such law specifically targeted Asian women as threats to the moral fabric of the United States due to their perceived sexual deviance. Subsequent laws built upon these problematic foundations, largely without reexamining the initial goal of safeguarding American morality from the ostensible sexual threat of noncitizen women. This dark history casts a long shadow, and current laws remain rooted in these archaic notions of morality by continuing to focus penalties on sellers of sex (who tend to be women), without reciprocal penalties for buyers (who tend to be men). Contemporary societal views on sellers of sex have changed, however, as society has come to increasingly tolerate and accept sexual conduct outside the bounds of marriage. Although societal views surrounding prostitution remain complex, there is an increased understanding of the different motivations of sellers of sex, as well as a recognition that individuals forced into prostitution are victims who need protection. Prostitution-related immigration laws should be reformed to no longer penalize sellers of sex, both to bring immigration law in line with modern attitudes towards sellers of sex and to mitigate the discriminatory effect of the archaic and gendered moral underpinnings that initially gave rise to and continue to show in these laws.
Walker, Rebecca, und Treasa Galvin. 2018. „Labels, victims, and insecurity: an exploration of the lived realities of migrant women who sell sex in South Africa“. Third World Thematics: A TWQ Journal 3 (2): 277–92. https://doi.org/10.1080/23802014.2018.1477526.
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Based on research work among cross-border migrant women who sell sex in South Africa, this paper examines the ways in which the label ‘victim’ of human trafficking ignores the complex realities of human mobility. We argue here that as state legislative and policy measures, in relation to human trafficking, justify the securitisation of borders and the curtailment of migrant rights, an accompanying hegemonic discourse serves to deny the agency of migrant women sex workers. As a result, the linkages between human trafficking and migration are experienced by migrant women sex workers through new layers of vulnerability and insecurity.

Lainez, Nicolas (2018), The Contested Legacies of Indigenous Debt Bondage in Southeast Asia: Indebtedness in the Vietnamese Sex Sector. American Anthropologist. doi:10.1111/aman.13105

Abstract

The modern‐slavery paradigm promotes analogies between contemporary trafficking and the transatlantic, white, and indigenous slave trade. The analogy some scholars use to address debt bondage in past and present Southeast Asia prompted me to consider the hypothesis that the debts incurred by Vietnamese sex workers with moneylenders, procurers, and migration brokers are a remnant of indigenous slavery. However, the ethnographic and legalistic study of debt in the Vietnamese sex sector across Southeast Asia in relation to debt‐bondage traditions provides limited support to the transhistorical thesis. Nonetheless, it throws light on the creditor–debtor relationship and shows that sex workers need credit to finance production and social reproduction in a region undergoing rapid capitalist development, and that because of their exclusion from financial, labor, and labor migration markets, they access it through personalized arrangements that generate strong obligations and dependencies with the potential for restrictions of freedom, in a social structure that promotes patronage, vertical bonding, and dependency.

Cruz, Katie. „Beyond Liberalism: Marxist Feminism, Migrant Sex Work, and Labour Unfreedom“. Feminist Legal Studies, 22. März 2018, 1–28. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10691-018-9370-7.
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Abstract
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In this article, I use a Marxist feminist methodology to map the organisation of migrant sex workers’ socially reproductive paid and unpaid labour in one city and country of arrival, London, UK. I argue that unfree and ‘free’ (sexual) labour exists on a continuum of capitalist relations of (re)production, which are gendered, racialised, and legal. It is within these relations that various actors implement, and migrant sex workers contest, unfree labour practices not limited to the most extreme forms. My analysis reveals that many migrant sex workers have very limited ‘freedom’. This is in stark contrast to the classical liberal claim of sex worker rights activists and academics that the vast majority of migrant sex workers are free, and therefore not coerced, exploited or trafficked. I then consider whether the emerging labour approach to trafficking could help achieve ‘freedom’ for migrant sex workers. Advocates argue that anti-trafficking efforts must, and can, be refocused on extending minimum labour and social protections to all vulnerable workers. I argue that this approach is disconnected from material interests and history. Rather, migrant sex workers, sex worker rights activists, and all migrant and citizen workers and activists globally must collectively organise against ‘labour unfreedom’ and hence for meaningful control over their labour and lives.
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Pintin-Perez, Margarita, Martha Luz Rojas Wiesner, und Rupaleem Bhuyan. „The symbolic violence of tolerance zones: Constructing the spatial marginalization of female Central American migrant sex workers in Mexico“. Women’s Studies International Forum 68 (Mai 2018): 75–84.

Abstract
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In this paper, we explore how the spatial ordering of sex-work in southern Mexico naturalizes the presence of migrant women in designated “tolerance zones”. Drawing on a feminist approach to ethnographic research in the city of Dominguez, Chiapas, we critically analyze the symbolic powers concealed and enacted through the official discourse of “tolerance” in public health regulations on commercial sex and embodied everyday life of migrant women from Central America. We engage with feminist debates regarding geographies of sex work and oppression to illustrate how tolerance zones mediate and maintain the marginal status of female sex workers who, despite their irregular migration status, are constructed (and view themselves) as bodies in “need of tolerance”. Our analysis of spatial practices that govern tolerance zones illustrates how the discourse of tolerance becomes a vehicle for symbolic violence, naturalizing unequal social relations of power in the lives of migrant Central American women.