Tag Archives: Social Work

Hu, Ran. 2019. ‘Examining Social Service Providers’ Representation of Trafficking Victims: A Feminist Postcolonial Lens’. Affilia, August, 0886109919868832.

As anti-trafficking social service providers (SSPs) facilitate the process of victim recovery and empowerment, they also participate in the dissemination of trafficking-related knowledge to the general public. Drawing on a feminist postcolonial framework, this study sought to examine how anti-trafficking SSPs represent trafficking victims in written narratives published on their organizational websites. Thirty-three narratives were drawn from the websites of 10 New York–based anti-trafficking SSPs. Despite the widespread adoption of a strength-based term, “survivor,” the narratives were found to reinforce a gendered and racialized representation of trafficking victims as sex trafficked women from the “global South” and to (re)produce many “ideal” trafficking victim stereotypes that have been dominating the current discourses of trafficking. A “life transformation” discourse was pervasive, discursively foregrounding the positive impact of the SSPs on trafficking survivors. The findings suggested a need for anti-trafficking SSPs to engage with critical reflection on their positionality and intentionality in representing trafficking victims/survivors and to adopt a survivor-led storytelling paradigm. This study also provided a timely reminder for social work practitioners and researchers to continue to challenge the dominant narratives embedded in their fields of practice, to exercise critical self-reflexivity, and to provide a discursive space for those who have been deprived of voices.

David, Marion. 2018. „The Moral and Political Stakes of Health Issues in the Regulation of Prostitution (the Cases of Belgium and France)“. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, Mai, 1–13.

Many studies have demonstrated the prominent role legal frameworks and local policies play in the shaping of prostitution, by informing to a large extent the conditions governing the exercise of the sex trade, while promoting a certain definition of this activity and its protagonists. However, the role of private organizations delegated the mission of providing social or medical assistance to people selling sex should not be overlooked. These organizations are still under-researched, despite the fact that they often occupy a pivotal position between those involved in the sex trade, public authorities, and the general population. Our contribution aims to provide an overview of the relevant landscape of third sector organizations in both Belgium and France and, more specifically, retrace the genesis of associations that have implemented programs to prevent sexually transmitted infections. We will also examine their relations with the public authorities and the legitimacy they enjoy in each country, before highlighting their potential influence on the structuring of representations and regulation of prostitution.

Anasti, Theresa. 2018. „Survivor or Laborer: How Human Service Managers Perceive Sex Workers?“ Affilia, Mai, 0886109918778075.


Regardless of primary population served, human service organizations are likely to come into contact with individuals who have been currently or formerly involved in the sex trade. In the United States, social workers have had a fraught history with this population, either treating them like delinquents or like victims in need of rescue. Sex worker activists in the United States continue to decry the negative treatment provided by individuals in the helping professions, even as harm reduction, the practice of reducing the harm of risky behaviors, has entered the service provision lexicon as an antidote to abstinence-only services. This article uses qualitative interviews with managers of human service organizations in the city of Chicago to determine how they think about their work with sex workers and how they perceive the proposed solutions to “fixing” the sex trade: abolitionism and decriminalization. Findings show that despite the dominant discourse of abolitionism in the United States, most of managers in this project believe full decriminalization of sex work will best assist their sex worker clients. Future research needs to understand how this finding holds in different settings and how this affects current efforts to advocate for decriminalization.

Bergquist, Kathleen Ja Sook. “Criminal, Victim, or Ally? Examining the Role of Sex Workers in Addressing Minor Sex Trafficking.” Affilia 30, no. 3 (August 1, 2015): 314–27. doi:10.1177/0886109915572844. 
The absence of representation from the sex industry in efforts to address the commercial sexual exploitation of children is striking. “Voices” that get heard are generally limited to survivor testimony, while those who are currently in “the life” are excluded, despite the fact that many enter into prostitution underage and would have been defined as child sex trafficking victims under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. This article explores the silencing effect of conflating prostitution with sex trafficking, the ways in which sex workers might contribute to addressing the commercial sexual exploitation of children as “allies,” and the ethical responsibility of social workers in anti-trafficking work.

Stéphanie Wahab and Meg Panichelli: Ethical and Human Rights Issues in Coercive Interventions With Sex WorkersAffilia 2013 28: 344.

A summary is available on the website of the Best Practice Policy Project. Click here to download the article from Sage Journals (currently free of charge). Please scroll to ‘Editorial’ (third entry from the top) and click on ‘Full Text PDF’.

Authors: Young Women’s Empowerment Project, 2012

Citation (MLA): Young Women’s Empowerment Project. Denied Help! How Youth in the Sex Trade & Street Economy are Turned Away From Systems Meant to Help Us & What We Are Doing to Fight Back. Bad Encounter Line 2012: A Participatory Action Research Project. Chicago, 2012.


We wanted to show how girls bounce back and heal from individual and institutional violence. We wanted this information so that we can collectively build a social justice campaign to respond to broad systemic harm. From this, YWEP’s first youth developed, led, and analyzed research project was born.

Our research questions were:

1. What individual and institutional violence do girls in the sex trade experience?

2. How do we heal/bounce back from this violence?

3. How do we resist/fight back against this violence?

4. How can we unite and collectively fight back?

We answered these questions using 4 tools: we did focus groups with our membership and outreach workers, we created a fill in the blank zine so that girls could document the ways they heal and fight back, we used ethnographic observation by paying attention and writing down the experiences of our outreach contacts, and we asked new questions in our workshops about how girls take care of themselves and avoid violence.

Read the full report here: