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Tag Archives: Migrant sex workers

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.
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Abstract
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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.

Lowthers, Megan, “Sexual-Economic Entanglement: A Feminist Ethnography of Migrant Sex Work Spaces in Kenya” (2015). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. Paper 3423.

Abstract:

The recent anti-trafficking fervour as well as the moral panic surrounding prostitution has given rise to large gaps within migrant sex work research, especially in Africa. Despite this, sexual commerce remains a viable economic activity for many women in East Africa, a region where variable migration patterns are central to everyday social, cultural, and economic life. Framed by anthropology, feminist geography, and postcolonial theory, this research examines migrant female sex workers’ everyday experiences across time, space, place, and scale from one ethnographic location in Naivasha, Kenya. In order to explore how different migration patterns and types of sexual-economic exchange are entangled, qualitative research was conducted among 110 migrant female sex workers and 15 community representatives. Emphasizing the public relevance of both sexual commerce and everyday migration, African literary tools also frame the migration stories of female sex workers originating from, arriving to, or transiting through Naivasha. This research reveals how street level sex work is reproduced amidst the current global political economy at migrant spaces including an IDP camp, flower farms, along East African highways, and through mobile phone technology. This research also contributes to a better understanding of the often excluded female sex worker – the displaced, migrant, or sex worker in transit – as a complete, engendered person by recognizing her complex lived realities, relationships, and risks. And while migration is predominantly associated with increased vulnerabilities, this research further demonstrates how different types of sexual-economic exchange through different migration patterns variously entangle victimhood and empowerment in complex ways. These findings are especially significant for interdisciplinary academic studies as well as policy and programming addressing sex worker migration in Africa.

Public URL: http://ir.lib.uwo.ca/etd/3423

Choo, Hae Yeon. “Selling Fantasies of Rescue: Intimate Labor, Filipina Migrant Hostesses, and US GIs in a Shifting Global Order.” positions: east asia cultures critique 24.1 (2016): 179–203.
Abstract

Based on ethnographic research in an US military camp town in South Korea, this article examines camp town sexual commerce as a manifestation of shifting global hierarchies amid Asia’s economic ascendance and the decline of US hegemony. Challenging the dichotomous constructions of US GIs as powerful agents and of migrant club hostesses as trafficked victims, the author highlights their shared conditions of “indentured mobility” as constrained subjects bound by migrant labor contracts in their quest for mobility. Revisiting the persisting power asymmetry between US GIs and migrant hostesses, the author’s ethnography reveals the ways in which power differentials are deployed by hostesses and club owners as a resource to incite the discourse of benevolence and rescue that attracts US GI customers to the clubs. By engaging the US military camp town as a space of migrant encounter, this article illuminates how global geopolitics, uneven capitalist development, and transnational migration are entangled with intimacy, power, and emotions to shape intimate labor at a critical juncture of the changing global order.

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The present paper deals with Chinese transnational sex labour migration in the city of Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon and the country’s major city. Based on ethnographic research conducted in the prostitution milieu of Douala between 2008 and 2012, and on information collected from both scholarly and popular literature, this contribution shows how the development in this African city of what can be called Chinese sexoscapes has induced the reconfiguration of the local geography of commercialised sex work, which for so long was dominated by native sex workers. The paper also demonstrates how many disgruntled Duala sex workers dealt with the so-called Chinese sex invasion of their city by relocating their business to popular entertainment areas commonly characterised in Cameroon as rue de la joie (street of enjoyment). The research argues that this local geography of sexualities has become a site for asserting ethnic, racial or national identity, and especially a space of both inclusion of people profiled as autochthon populations and the exclusion of those branded foreigners.

Escamilla Loredo, M. I. (2014). Developing safer sex negotiation skills among Latin American female sex workers working in Germany. Bielefeld: Bielefeld University.

Executive Summary.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, are among the most important
causes of infertility, long-term disability and death in the world (WHO 2012).
Because of the particularities of their job, sex workers (SW) are at great risk of
acquiring HIV/STIs. It is estimated that around 400,000 sex workers are engaged in
Germany and approximately 1 million men look daily for sex workers’ services in the
country (TAMPEP 2010). In Germany, sex work is a commercial activity
predominantly conducted by migrants and by women (TAMPEP 2010, 2007a, 2007b,
2007d). The largest populations of migrant SW in the country are the groups from
Central and Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America (TAMPEP 2010). Evidence
suggests that sex workers in Germany may not consistently practice protected sex
(RKI 2012; Bremer 2007, 2006; TAMPEP 2010, 2007b, 2007d). Among other
interventions to increase condom use among SW, it is recommended to improve sex
workers’ safer sex negotiation abilities. In this sense, the current study was
conducted to achieve two principal goals: 1) to identify negotiation strategies that
Latin American female sex workers working in Germany (LAFSWs) employ by
attempting to persuade clients resistant to using a condom; and 2) to identify skills
building approaches to teach sex workers condom use negotiation strategies.

Full document available here. 

 

Abstract

The expansion of Chinese activities in Africa has been accompanied by a growing number of young Chinese women migrants engaged in prostitution, transforming the red-light districts of some African cities from markets almost entirely monopolized by local sex workers into highly competitive Chinese commercial sexualized sites. In Cameroon, disgruntled local sex workers now point to a ‘Chinese sexual invasion’ and blame young Chinese women for the decline in their business. This article explores some of the remarkable tactics devised by local sex workers in Douala to deal with the ‘unfair competition’ represented by Chinese sex workers. These tactics include the production of extremist discourses that construe Chinese sex workers as economic predators, and characterize them as dangerous putes sorcières (bitch-witches). The article concludes that the pervasive idiom of occultism, embodied by the concepts of “magic body” and “cursed sex” that permeate much of the popular imagination of Chinese sex labourers in Cameroon, reflects a broader disenchantment with recent China–Africa cooperation, which is increasingly perceived as an attempt by China to control Africa’s immense natural resources under the guise of mutually beneficial relations.

Article available for free here.

Abstract

This article is about the lives of Nigerian sex workers after deportation from Europe, as well as the institutions that intervene in their migration trajectories. In Europe, some of these women’s situations fit the legal definitions of trafficking, and they were categorized as “victims of human trafficking”; others were categorized as undocumented migrants—“criminals” guilty of violating immigration laws. Despite the growing political attention devoted to protecting victims of trafficking, I argue that in areas of Nigeria prone to economic insecurity and gender-based violence, the categories of “victim” and “criminal” collapse into, and begin to resemble, one another once on the ground. The need to identify and distinguish groups of migrants from one another illustrates the dilemmas that have arisen in the wake of increasingly restrictive European immigration policies. Furthermore, the return processes create a hierarchical structure in which the violence women experience in the sex industry in Europe is imagined to be worse than the everyday violence they experience at home.

Goldenberg, Shira M., Jill Chettiar, Paul Nguyen, Sabina Dobrer, Julio Montaner, and Kate Shannon. “Complexities of Short-Term Mobility for Sex Work and Migration among Sex Workers: Violence and Sexual Risks, Barriers to Care, and Enhanced Social and Economic Opportunities.Journal of Urban Health 91, no. 4 (August 1, 2014): 736–51. doi:10.1007/s11524-014-9888-1.
Abstract

Despite research on the health and safety of mobile and migrant populations in the formal and informal sectors globally, limited information is available regarding the working conditions, health, and safety of sex workers who engage in short-term mobility and migration. The objective of this study was to longitudinally examine work environment, health, and safety experiences linked to short-term mobility/migration (i.e., worked or lived in another city, province, or country) among sex workers in Vancouver, Canada, over a 2.5-year study period (2010–2012). We examined longitudinal correlates of short-term mobility/migration (i.e., worked or lived in another city, province, or country over the 3-year follow-up period) among 646 street and off-street sex workers in a longitudinal community-based study (AESHA). Of 646 sex workers, 10.84 % (n = 70) worked or lived in another city, province, or country during the study. In a multivariate generalized estimating equations (GEE) model, short-term mobility/migration was independently correlated with older age (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 0.95, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 0.92–0.98), soliciting clients in indoor (in-call) establishments (AOR 2.25, 95 % CI 1.27–3.96), intimate partner condom refusal (AOR 3.00, 1.02–8.84), and barriers to health care (AOR 1.77, 95 % CI 1.08–2.89). In a second multivariate GEE model, short-term mobility for sex work (i.e., worked in another city, province, or country) was correlated with client physical/sexual violence (AOR 1.92, 95 % CI 1.02–3.61). In this study, mobile/migrant sex workers were more likely to be younger, work in indoor sex work establishments, and earn higher income, suggesting that short-term mobility for sex work and migration increase social and economic opportunities. However, mobility and migration also correlated with reduced control over sexual negotiation with intimate partners and reduced health care access, and mobility for sex work was associated with enhanced workplace sexual/physical violence, suggesting that mobility/migration may confer risks through less control over work environment and isolation from health services. Structural and community-led interventions, including policy support to allow for more formal organizing of sex work collectives and access to workplace safety standards, remain critical to supporting health, safety, and access to care for mobile and migrant sex workers.

This article examines the paradoxes of neoliberalism through two migrant sex workers’ negotiation of the transnational disciplinary regimes of morality, national security, and humanitarianism. We take as our point of departure their active resistance to the label of “victims of sex trafficking.” From a close analysis of their migration journey and their experiences in the United States, we come to understand these women as defiant neoliberal subjects. We argue that global anti-trafficking initiatives as they have taken shape in the twenty-first century are part of neoliberal governance. The women’s sexual labor subjects them to the scrutiny and penalty of the state. Yet they see themselves as self-sufficient, self-responsible, and self-enterprising individuals. We locate these tensions within three paradoxes of neoliberalism: the apparent amorality of neoliberalism and its facilitation of a conservative moral agenda; the depoliticization of social risks and the hyperpoliticization of national security; and the continuous creation and ravaging of vulnerable populations coupled with the celebration of humanitarian/philanthropic responses from governmental and NGO sectors. Juxtaposing these women’s self-making projects with the transnational state apparatus to combat “sex trafficking,” we gain insights into how individual pursuits and state practices intersect at this neoliberal moment—despite their different purposes.

Full article available here.