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.