As a sex worker support organisation, SWAN (Supporting Women’s Alternatives Network) Vancouver’s relationship to anti-trafficking funding remains ambivalent, particularly given the history of anti-trafficking measures that have jeopardised the rights of sex workers. In this article, we share how we, as a small grassroots group, attempt to work through these ambivalences in dialogue with donors. Although SWAN Vancouver works with women who are often perceived to be trafficked (i.e. Asian women in sex work), it is rare for members of SWAN Vancouver to come across any case in the sex-work sector that has the hallmarks of trafficking, such as coerced work. Instead, our anti-trafficking work has mainly involved identifying the harms and human rights violations caused by repressive or misguided anti-trafficking measures. We reflect on our dialogue with two Canadian funders (a federal government agency and a national public foundation) that have considerable resources and immense power to influence what anti-trafficking practices are implemented in Canada. We analyse how these two funders and their adoption of an anti-prostitution analysis of trafficking will likely result in punitive consequences for immigrant sex workers, and therefore increase the need to assist women who have been anti-trafficked rather than trafficked.
Rissel, C., B. Donovan, A. Yeung, R. O. de Visser, A. Grulich, J. M. Simpson, and J. Richters. “Decriminalization of Sex Work Is Not Associated with More Men Paying for Sex: Results from the Second Australian Study of Health and Relationships.” Sexuality Research and Social Policy, February 24, 2016, 1–6. doi:10.1007/s13178-016-0225-1.
It has been claimed that the decriminalization of sex work may result in its proliferation, but there is no evidence to prove or disprove this claim. We investigated whether decriminalization was associated with the prevalence of paying for sex. A representative national sample of 8074 Australian men interviewed by telephone reported whether they had paid for sex ever and in the last 12 months. Cross-sectional associations between paying for sex in the last 12 months and their jurisdiction’s legal approach to sex work (criminalized, licensed, or decriminalized), were examined with logistic regression analysis, controlling for demographic variables and relationship status. Overall, 2.2 % of the men reported paying for sex in the past year—a proportion that was not statistically different by state or territory (P = 0.26). The only variable that was associated with paying for sex was not having a regular sexual partner, or to a lesser extent, not living with a regular partner. Being aged 16–19 years was associated with lower odds of paying for sex. Being a male without a regular partner was associated with paying for sex. The legal approach to sex work in the respondent’s state of residence was not associated with having paid for sex.
Original title of the report in German: Unterstützung des Ausstiegs aus der Prostitution – Kurzfassung des Abschlussberichtes der wissenschaftlichen Begleitung zum Bundesmodellprojekt
Rachel Lovell and Ann Jordan, “Do John Schools Really Decrease Recidivism? A methodological critique of an evaluation of the San Francisco First Offender Prostitution Program”. Published online, July 2012
A growing number of governments are creating “john schools” in the belief that providing men with information about prostitution will stop them from buying sex, which will in turn stop prostitution and trafficking. John schools typically offer men arrested for soliciting paid sex the opportunity (for a fee) to attend lectures by health experts, law enforcement and former sex workers in exchange for cleared arrest records if they are not re-arrested within a certain period of time. A 2008 examination of the San Francisco john school, “Final Report on the Evaluation of the First Offender Prostitution Program,” claims to be the first study to prove that attending a john school leads to a lower rate of recidivism or re-arrest (Shively et al.). Despite its claims, the report offers no reliable evidence that the john school classes reduce the rate of re-arrests.
This paper analyzes the methodology and data used in the San Francisco study and concludes that serious flaws in the research design led the researchers to claim a large drop in re-arrest rates that, in fact, occurred before the john school was implemented.
Lazarus L, Deering KN, Nabess R, Gibson K, Tyndall MW, Shannon K. Occupational Stigma as a Primary Barrier To Health Care For Street-Based Sex Workers in Canada. Culture, health & sexuality. 2012;14(2):139-150. doi:10.1080/13691058.2011.628411.
Individuals working in the sex industry continue to experience many negative health outcomes. As such, disentangling the factors shaping poor health access remains a critical public health priority. Within a quasi-criminalised prostitution environment, this study aimed to evaluate the prevalence of occupational stigma associated with sex work and its relationship to barriers to accessing health services. Analyses draw on baseline questionnaire data from a community-based cohort of women in street-based sex work in Vancouver, Canada (2006–8). Of a total of 252 women, 141 (58.5%) reported occupational sex work stigma (defined as hiding occupational sex work status from family, friends and/or home community), while 125 (49.6%) reported barriers to accessing health services in the previous six months. In multivariable analysis, adjusting for socio-demographic, interpersonal and work environment risks, occupational sex work stigma remained independently associated with an elevated likelihood of experiencing barriers to health access. Study findings indicate the critical need for policy and societal shifts in views of sex work as a legitimate occupation, combined with improved access to innovative, accessible and non-judgmental health care delivery models for street-based sex workers that include the direct involvement of sex workers in development and implementation.
Jeal, N. and Salisbury, C. (2007), Health needs and service use of parlour-based prostitutes compared with street-based prostitutes: a cross-sectional survey. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 114: 875–881. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2007.01379.x
Objectives To compare the health needs of prostitutes (sex workers) working in massage parlours with that of those working on the streets.
Design Cross-sectional survey.
Setting Inner city, UK.
Population Women aged 16 years and older selling sex in massage parlours.
Methods Interviewer-administered questionnaires were undertaken with 71 parlour workers, and results were compared with our previous findings for street sex workers.
Main outcome measures Self-reported experiences of health and service use.
Results In comparison with street sex workers, parlour sex workers were less likely to report chronic (43/71 versus 71/71; P < 0.001) and acute (10/71 versus 35/71; P < 0.001) illnesses but more likely to be registered with a GP (67/71 versus 59/71; P= 0.06). They were more likely than street sex workers to have been screened for sexually transmitted infections in the previous year (49/71 versus 33/71; P= 0.011) and more likely to use contraception in addition to condoms (34/71 versus 8/71; P < 0.001). They were less likely to be overdue for cervical screening (5/46 versus 19/48; P= 0.001), and more of those booked for antenatal care in the first trimester attended all follow-up appointments (28/37 versus 14/47; P < 0.001). Fewer parlour sex workers used heroin (4/71 versus 60/71; P < 0.001), crack cocaine (5/71 versus 62/71; P < 0.001) or injected drugs (2/71 versus 41/71 versus; P < 0.001) They reported fewer episodes of intercourse per week (mean 14 versus 22; P < 0.001) with fewer different men (mean 11 versus 19; P < 0.001), less of whom were new (mean 8 versus 13; P < 0.001).
Conclusions The two groups had very different health experiences, risk-taking behaviour and use of services. To be effective in improving health, different types of service delivered in different settings for different groups are required.
Full text available here.
Community mobilization is a participatory intervention strategy used among Female Sex Workers (FSW’s) to address HIV risks through behavior change and self empowerment. This study quantitatively measure and differentiate theoretically defined forms of FSW participation’s and identify their contextual associated factors.
Data was derived from cross-sectional Integrated Bio Behavioral Assessment conducted among FSW’s in Andhra Pradesh (AP) (n = 3370), Maharashtra (MH) (n = 3133) and Tamil Nadu (TN) (n = 2140) of India during 2009-2010. Information’s about socio-demography, community mobilization and participation experiences were collected. Conceptual model for two contexts of mobilization entailing distinct FSW participations were defined as participation in “collective” and “public” spaces respectively. Bivariate and multiple regression analysis were used.
Result: The level of participation in “collective” and “public” spaces was lowest in MH (43.9% & 11.7% respectively), higher in TN (82.2% &22.5% respectively) and AP (64.7%&33.1%). Bivariate and multivariate regression analysis highlighted the distinct nature of “participations” through their varied associations with FSW mobilization and background status.
In MH, street FSWs showed significantly lower collective participation (36.5%) than brothel FSWs (46.8%) and street FSWs showed higher public participation (16.2%) than brothel FSWs (9.7%). In AP both collective and public participation were significantly high among street FSWs (62.7% and 34.7% respectively) than brothel FSW’s (55.2% and 25.4% respectively).
Regression analysis showed FSWs with “community identity”, were more likely to participate in public spaces in TN and AP (AOR 2.4, 1.5-3.8 & AOR 4.9, CI 2.3-10.7) respectively. FSWs with “collective identity” were more likely to participate in collective spaces in TN, MH and AP (AOR 27.2 CI 13.7-53.9; AOR 7.3, CI 3.8-14.3; AOR 5.7 CI 3-10.9 respectively). FSWs exhibiting “collective agency” were more likely to participate in public spaces in TN, MH and AP (AOR 2.3 CI 1-3.4; AOR 4.5- CI 2.6-7.8; AOR 2.2 CI 1.5-3.1) respectively.
Findings reveal FSWs participation as a dynamic process inherently evolving along with the community mobilization process in match with its contexts. Participation in “Collective” and Public spaces” is indicators, symbolizing FSWs passage from the disease prevention objectives towards empowerment, which would help better understand and evaluate community mobilization interventions.
Despite the significant emphasis given to the trafficking of Brazilians to the sex industry of the Iberian Peninsula, the concepts of “victim of trafficking for sexual exploitation” used in these three countries vary. This article analyses the positions of Brazil, Spain and Portugal regarding the conceptualisation of “trafficking victim,” focusing on their legislation and policies, as well as on relevant narratives which show how these policies are being applied. It showcases how the incompatible definitions being used compromise genuine anti-trafficking actions and may be an indicator that stopping trafficking may not be the primary concern of the policies developed by these governments.
Susann Huschke, Peter Shirlow, Dirk Schubotz, Eilís Ward, Ursula Probst and Caoimhe Ní Dhónaill, “Research into Prostitution in Northern Ireland: Commissioned from Queen’s University Belfast by the Department of Justice” (October 2014).
No abstract available. Opening text:
“At present in Northern Ireland practices related to prostitution, such as soliciting or loitering for purposes of prostitution, organising or advertising prostitution and brothel keeping (defined as more than one person selling sexual services in a given location) constitute criminal offences under the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008. This cultural and legal context has produced particularly hidden forms of prostitution with the internet becoming a major platform for advertising sexual services and setting up meetings in hotels or apartments. Despite the legal context and alternative discourses concerning prostitution in Northern Ireland there has been a paucity of research on social issues that relate to prostitution, such as migration, trafficking and the nature of prostitution.
Limited research evidence is available with regard to the size and composition of the sex worker population in Northern Ireland. It can be deduced from the few available government and NGO publications that sex workers operating in Northern Ireland include locals and people from other parts of the UK, the Republic of Ireland, as well as sex workers from Europe and from across the world, e.g. Nigeria, Colombia and Brazil. Northern Ireland, and particularly its largest city Belfast seems to be a destination for mobile sex worker. Although some sex workers may sell sex only in one place, most appear to be mobile, moving between different cities across Ireland and the UK, as well as across the continent (e.g. Spain, Italy, Germany). This generally mirrors the practice of sex workers across Europe.
While these reports and studies provide some insight into the lives of sex workers and their clients, the evidence is patchy, largely unsystematic and not as extensive as the evidence available in other parts of the UK and the Republic of Ireland. So far, reliable academic studies based on interview or survey data from those who sell and buy sexual services in Northern Ireland have generally been unavailable. However, the issue of prostitution has received considerable interest in Northern Ireland over the last year, due mainly to the proposal within Lord Morrow’s Private Member’s Bill (Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Further Provisions and Support for Victims) Bill) to criminalise paying for sexual services. This study commissioned by the Department of Justice aims to fill some of the existing research gaps by conducting a mixed methods study of prostitution in Northern Ireland.”