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Tag Archives: Sex Work

Andrijasevic, Rutvica. (2021). Forced labour in supply chains: Rolling back the debate on gender, migration and sexual commerce. European Journal of Women’s Studies, 13505068211020792. https://doi.org/10.1177/13505068211020791

Abstract

This article makes a conceptual contribution to the broader literature on unfree labour by challenging the separate treatment of sexual and industrial labour exploitation both by researchers and in law and policy. This article argues that the prevailing focus of the supply chain literature on industrial labour has inadvertently posited sexual labour as the ‘other’ of industrial labour thus obfuscating how the legal blurring of boundaries between industrial and service labour is engendering new modalities of the erosion of workers’ rights that are increasingly resembling those typical of sex work. This article advances the debate on unfree labour both conceptually and empirically. Conceptually, it highlights the relevance of social reproduction in understanding forms of labour unfreedom. Empirically, it demonstrates the similarities in forms of control and exploitation between sex work and industrial work by illustrating how debt and housing operate in both settings.

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.

Clemente, Mara. 2021. The long arm of the neoliberal leviathan in the counter-trafficking field: the case of Portuguese NGOs. International Review of Sociology, DOI: 10.1080/03906701.2021.1899366

Abstract


In recent decades, in many countries including Portugal, human trafficking has become an important issue on political agendas, attracting increased investment of financial and human resources, and the growing involvement of civil society organizations. Employing a historical perspective, this article analyses the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the counter-trafficking field, in particular, in the conceptualization of human trafficking, the elaboration of counter-trafficking policies and practices, and NGOs’ potentials and limitations in challenging them. Using data obtained through prolonged empirical research, the article argues that in contexts characterized by a high level of institutionalization and structural weakness in organized civil society, NGOs have little chance to assume a role beyond serving as a long arm of the neoliberal state apparatus. Both the outsourcing of certain counter-trafficking services to NGOs and the controversial yet undisputed national security-focused approach to trafficking represent integral parts of the practical logics of the counter-trafficking field, which remains largely unquestioned by counter-trafficking NGOs. These logics include the silencing of any debate about prostitution, at least within the Portuguese counter-trafficking apparatus.

Anglí, Mariona Llobet. ‘Will the End of Prostitution Eradicate Human Trafficking? Four Fallacies in the Abolitionist Approach’. EuCLR European Criminal Law Review 9, no. 1 (2019): 99–119. (Link)

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the ‘war of data’ on prostitution brought on by scholars, politicians, NGOs and the media. The paper also tackles the misleading wordings and realities in place, which significantly shake the empirical and conceptual foundations of abolitionism, thereby challenging abolitionist claims. As will be shown below, the abolitionist approach is flawed by four fallacies: the statistical, the phenomenological, the deductive and the deterrence fallacy. Therefore, we can conclude that there is no empirical evidence that abolishing prostitution would eradicate, or at least decrease, human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

Ward, Eilís. ‘“Framing Figures” and the Campaign for Sex Purchase Criminalisation in Ireland: A Lakoffian Analysis:’ Irish Journal of Sociology, 1 December 2020. https://doi.org/10.1177/0791603520951754.

Abstract

If the concept of social justice posits equality and fairness between subjects in the social order, then the presence of those subjects within that order must first and foremost be acknowledged. In Ireland’s recent reform of prostitution law contained in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017, the presence of the sex worker as a rights-bearing subject or citizen, with access to justice in that capacity, was denied. In this article I focus on the use of data by the neo-abolitionist ‘Turn off the Red Light’ campaign to ‘flatten out’ the complexity of sex workers lives and present the figure of the ‘vulnerable prostituted woman’ and the ‘trafficking victim’: tragic, abject, a necessarily violated person and in need of ‘protection’ from the state. I argue that this data, entering public and political discourse as uncontestable truth, constituted what I call, ‘framing figures’, framing an inevitable outcome and precluding certain subjects from the status of equality and fairness. The data allowed campaigners for the Sex Purchase Ban (SPB), and, in turn the state, to eclipse a social justice approach to sex work, such as proposed by the Sex Workers Alliance of Ireland and other actors.

Yarfitz, Mir. ‘Marriage as Ruse or Migration Route: Jewish Women’s Mobility and Sex Trafficking to Argentina, 1890s-1930s’. Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary e-Journal 17, no. 1 (15 October 2020). https://doi.org/10.33137/wij.v17i1.34964.

Abstract

The victim narrative of the international anti-white slavery movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century highlighted the suffering of prostituted women entrapped by violent men. Due to both antisemitic exaggeration and the reality of Ashkenazi Jewish networks of international sex work management in this period, Jews faced particular scrutiny as traffickers, and organized internationally with non-Jewish reformers against the phenomenon. Reformers often decried the shtile khupe, a Jewish religious marriage ceremony without a civil component, as a key trafficking technique. Drawing on League of Nations archives, court records, and the Yiddish, Spanish, and English press, this essay provides a granular social history of marriage and associated relational strategies for cross-border migration and structuring Jewish sex work on the ground in early-twentieth-century Buenos Aires. Evidence from sex workers and their managers pushes against these victimization narratives, reframing marriage as a method to achieve transnational mobility and improve labor and living conditions. Historical and contemporary feminist responses to trafficking share rhetorical strategies and critiques – in both past and present, transnational sex work can be analyzed in a migratory rather than coercive context, centering individuals making difficult choices from among limited options.

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Rachok, Dafna. ‘Honesty and Economy on a Highway: Entanglements of Gift, Money, and Affection in the Narratives of Ukrainian Sex Workers’. Economic Anthropology, Early View. https://doi.org/10.1002/sea2.12187.

Abstract

Sex work provides a particularly good example to consider the relationships of money, authenticity, and intimacy. Many scholars who research intimacy point to the fact that seeing sex work as an exchange of money (or goods) for sex is a simplistic and reductive approach. Building on the existing research that complicates the idea of sex work as an emotionally detached sex‐for‐money transaction, this article looks at the coexistence of references to gift exchange, informal economy, and service economy in the narratives of street sex workers from the cities of Kropyvnyts’kyi and Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine. Focusing on sex workers’ attempts at discursive legitimization of sex work and on the narratives of their relationships with clients, I argue that the market rhetoric and the gift economy are not incommensurable for my participants. I show that though sex workers’ local “workplace ethic” is permeated with references to competition and productivity, they still don’t see sex work as qualitatively different from other forms of intimacy and don’t treat their clients as mere customers because of multiple emotional and affectionate attachments that exist between them. I conclude by considering the coexistence of various economic narratives in relation to the economic self.

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Goyal, Yugank. ‘Responsibilization through Regulatory Intermediaries in Informal Markets: Examining the Governance of Prostitution in India’. Regulation & Governance, Early View. https://doi.org/10.1111/rego.12298.

Abstract

“Independent” sex work outside red light areas in big cities in developing countries is an understudied phenomenon. Through a survey of independent sex workers in Delhi, India, this paper sheds light on the governance of independent prostitution. It shows that in the sex work industry, which is informal in nature and faces a complex legal architecture, regulatory intermediaries (RIs) drive both regulation and responsibilization strategies. On behalf of the state, the police act as regulatory intermediaries, implementing hierarchical regulation. In red light areas, sex workers’ collectives and solidarity networks operate as RIs on behalf of workers. But in independent sex work, it is pimps who act as intermediaries for workers, driving their responsibilization strategies. Independent sex workers take up the services of pimps even though they charge hefty fees, in large part because pimps can negotiate their protection from the police. I examine several characteristics of the relationships between prostitutes, pimps, clients, and the police, and refine the RIT model of regulatory intermediaries (Abbott et al. 2017) in the context of prostitution in a developing country.

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Leser, Julia. ‘On the Sensory Policing of Vices:  Morality at Work in a German Vice Squad’. Journal of Extreme Anthropology 4, no. 1 (7 March 2020): 22–44. https://doi.org/10.5617/jea.7358.

Abstract

This paper explores the policing of vices and offers a critical inquiry into the affective politics of policing practices seen through police and state ethnography, political anthropology, and the ‘affective turn’ in social and cultural theory. It shows how the moral worlds of policing sex work and performing raids in the red-light ‘milieu’ are constituted in the making of boundaries through visual, olfactory, somatosensory, and auditory sensations, which can be understood as normative performances in the realm of morality. Police officers do not engage in a neutral gaze but transform the sensuous into sensations that enact these normative distinctions between the ‘normal’ and the ‘abnormal’ – the morally questionable red-light ‘milieu.’ These practices can be read in regard to a morality that is conveyed in and through the officers’ sensational performances in an observingly affective and somatic manner. Morality not simply is but is being done—and performing affects and sensations plays a significant role in the making of moral worlds in the realm of policing. Raiding the red-light ‘milieu’ is a performance on disorder and order, on what is normal and what is not, and thus a deeply political practice that reveals how order- and boundary-making operates through basic sensations and feelings, of the sensuous, the aesthetic, and the somatic.

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Ham, Julie. (2020). Rates, roses and donations: Naming your price in sex work. Sociology 2020 (Online First). https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0038038520906773

Abstract

Questions about payment and what it signifies, lie at the heart of feminist debates concerning the morality and legitimacy of sex work. Yet the materialities of payment still remain interestingly under-explored in sex work research. This article addresses this gap by examining immigrant, migrant and racialized sex workers’ pricing practices in Vancouver, Canada and Melbourne, Australia. Determining one’s prices or rates in the sex industry was not a neutral, market-driven calculation for many workers, but was infused with strong ideas about safety, risk, experiential knowledge and the specificities of sex work. Analysing prices and pricing practices through a practice theory lens offers an opportunity to re-think the role of choice in feminist debates about sex work, by highlighting the decisions workers make on a day-to-day basis and capturing the myriad knowledges gained more commonly through experience rather than instruction.