In this paper, we examine whether the earnings of sex workers in India are significantly different from those in domestic work, a trade that is also gendered in nature and can be done with similarly low levels of training and education. We analyse this using data collected during fieldwork in the cities of Kolkata and Delhi in India. Our results confirm that there is a significant difference in wages between the two groups of workers. We consider the extent to which the stigma attached to sex work contributes to the higher wages in this occupation relative to domestic work. To do this, we control for endogeneity caused by selection on unobservables. We find that stigma is a significant contributory factor to the wage differential. We also preliminarily consider an alternate explanation – that of violence in the trade. We find that the experience of violence in the trade does not affect the take home earnings of the individuals.
Hock, Stefan. 2019. ‘To Bring About a “Moral of Renewal”: The Deportation of Sex Workers in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War’. Journal of the History of Sexuality 28 (3): 457–82.
In January 1915 European consuls in Istanbul gave the city’s police commissioner, Osman Bedri Bey, a list of names of known procurers. The accused traffickers included Russian, Argentinian, Romanian, American, Austrian, French, British, and Greek citizens. All but one of them were deported; 151 were banished from the country, 11 were sent to Sivas, and 5 were sent to Kayseri, cities in the interior of Anatolia that were far removed from the capital.1 Bedri quickly rose through the ranks of Ottoman civil officialdom as he was a close friend of Talaat, the powerful interior minister who became grand vizier in 1917. Read more…
Mancini, Christina, Justin T. Pickett, Kristen M. Budd, Stephanie Bontrager, and Dominique Roe-Sepowitz. 2020. ‘Examining Policy Preferences for Prostitution Regulation Among American Males: The Influence of Contextual Beliefs’. Criminal Justice Review, February. https://doi.org/10.1177/0734016820906601.
The arguments for criminalizing prostitution surround public concerns—moral order, public health, and safety. For this reason, an understanding of attitudes about the nature and consequences of the practice, particularly among American males, the presumed consumers of sex-related exchanges, is needed. Specifically, how do contextual beliefs about the nature of prostitution (e.g., negative health effects, victimization risk, age of entry) shape policy preferences regarding prostitution? Data from a nationally representative survey developed to solicit sensitive information are utilized to assess these attitudes among a large sample of American men (N = 2,525). Results show that paradoxically most men approve of legalizing commercial sex exchange, even while believing the practice harms prostitutes by increasing victimization risk and reducing their overall well-being. Multivariate analysis indicates divides in opinion regarding legalization support. Implications are discussed.
Carrier-Moisan, Marie-Eve. 2019. ‘“A Red Card against Sex Tourism”: Sex Panics, Public Emotions, and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil’. Feminist Formations 31 (2): 125–54. https://doi.org/10.1353/ff.2019.0019.
This article examines the campaigns against sex tourism and sex trafficking that have emerged with the advent of several mega-sporting events in Brazil. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Natal, one of the twelve host cities of the 2014 World Cup, it focuses on the appeal to emotions in mobilization against sex trafficking and sex tourism. Despite the recent turn to emotions in social sciences, including the role of emotions in politics, there is a dearth of study examining the intersections of emotions and moral panics. Yet expressions of disgust, anger, rage, or outrage commonly accompany moral panics issues. This article engages with how campaigns against sex tourism and sex trafficking associated with the 2014 World Cup materialize through emotional tropes iterated and reiterated in public spaces, or sex panics scripts. More specifically, this article identifies various scripts—the sexually innocent yet violated child, the bad gringo, and the enslaved woman—and points to what gives them their traction. Taken together, these emotional tropes are constitutive of an affective logic that both conflates justice with punishment and repression, and makes certain oppressive interventions and fraught alliances “feel right”—that is, publicly thinkable, possible, and acceptable.
This contribution examines how feminist economists have conceptualized sex work and trafficking through the lens of agency and stigma. The ongoing debate about legalization has focused on sex workers’ agency and choice, and on the role of stigma in shaping the supply of and demand for sex work. Building on the analysis advanced by contributions to this special issue, this study contends that theoretical and policy debates about sex work are dominated by false dichotomies of agency and stigma. It argues that the relationship between stigma and agency operates along a continuum of contractual arrangements that underpins a high degree of segmentation in the industry. The higher the stigma, the lower tends to be the agency. Current policies toward sex work therefore need reconsideration – especially mounting support for criminalization of clients, which, by increasing stigma, is likely to detract from the agency and the well-being of sex workers, however unintentionally.
Mary Jane Hayes was a “deviant” woman—a “drunken prostitute” who was in and out of both the Fremantle Lunatic Asylum and Fremantle Prison from 1871 to 1898. One of twelve women in the Fremantle Lunatic Asylum records to have been referred to as a prostitute, Mary Jane was particularly reviled: her alcohol consumption and unsavoury lifestyle were often blamed as the cause of her violent behaviour and insanity. Prison and asylum records reveal several arrests for drunkenness and vagrancy, with an estimated 67 convictions; newspaper articles also depict her numerous convictions for indecent behaviour, obscene language and larceny. Mary Jane Hayes’s contact with both the asylum and prison, as well as her mentions in newspapers, allows for an archival and media content examination of late 19th-century Fremantle society and its treatment of deviant women who fell into the category of moral insanity: madness caused by a moral failing, especially alcohol and sex. This article will make a wider contribution to colonial Australian history, particularly the history of Fremantle, by developing a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of women and moral insanity in the late 19th century.
The “pussy patrols” in academia are the economic, discursive, sexual, and epistemological forms of violence in academia that control, silence, and reroute all femmes—not just cis women—in higher education. Although feminists have long examined sexual harassment in educational and occupational spaces, very few have turned their attention to the specific, embodied experiences of sex-working academics. Employing “epistemic disobedience” and “Critical Life Story” interviewing methodologies, I look at the experiences of thirteen sex-working academics, including my own experiences as a sex-working undergraduate and graduate student. I disrupt the false dichotomy of empowerment/oppression in the sex industry; I ask if higher education is necessarily emancipatory; and I offer suggestions, based on the forced rerouting and silencing of sex-working academics, for moving forward as activist-academics. Indeed, the time for rebelling against the strict academic codes that rely on Cartesian dualism is now.
The last decade has seen an expansion in initiatives promoting the development of special sex services oriented to people with disabilities, which in Europe are increasingly labelled ‘sexual assistance’. These have become the object of political and media attention, and arguably call for a critical analysis incorporating both disability and sex workers’ rights perspectives. Based on an 18-month embedded participant observation, I explore the case of a grassroots organisation which brings together sexual assistants, disabled activists and (potential) clients, and their allies in Switzerland. Opposing ‘therapy’, ‘charity’, and ‘care’ approaches to sexual assistance, members of this organisation work within their own model of ‘ethical’ services. While they place sexual pleasure at the centre of this approach, in practice, they promote forms of self-regulation aimed at limiting the risks of sex services, connected in particular to intimate violence, stigmatisation, sex normativity, and the role of intermediaries. Clearly rooted in a disability rights perspective, this grassroots initiative does not only concern sexual assistance but more largely sex services. In this sense, this study invites us to look at sexual assistance as an interesting space for alliance between sex workers’ rights and the rights of people with disabilities, as a uniquely politicised group of (potential) clients.
This article explores the understudied and undertheorized role that fiscal policies play in shaping the relationship between the state and sex workers. It highlights the importance of looking at tax policy and its implementation to understand how inequality is reinforced against sexually marginalized populations. Drawing on the Italian case, it explores the ways in which ambiguous taxation arrangements operate to penalize sex workers, excluding them from the status of full taxpayer citizenship, and demonizing them as individuals who exploit the fiscal system at the expense of “good” tax-paying citizens. Fiscal policies, I argue, need to be considered in the context of the governance of prostitution as social mechanisms that have the potential to contribute to the sexual and economic citizenship of this marginalized population, but which, when unequal and ambiguous, reinforce the social and political liminality of sex workers as lesser citizens, and add to the stigma, damaging stereotypes and violence already waged against them. The complex ways in which inequality against sex workers is maintained is revealed as a dynamic process that reflects the ever-shifting interplay of economics and morality.
This research used a semi-structured interview method and Smith and Osborn’s (2003) interpretive phenomenological analysis to investigate a female prostitute’s experiences of stigma associated with her work. To structure the interview schedule, Seidman’s (2006) in-depth phenomenologically based interviewing method, which comprises three areas of focus, “focused life history,” “details of the experience” under investigation, and “reflection of the meaning” of the experience, was used as a general guide. Ten broad psychological themes were identified: 1) awareness of engaging in what people think is bad; (2) negative labeling by people who discover she is a prostitute; 3) hiding and lying about her identity as a prostitute to avoid being labeled negatively; 4) hiding and lying about her prostitution identity result in stress, anxiety, and exhaustion; 5) wishing she did not have to hide and lie about being a prostitute; 6) questioning and objecting to the stigmatization of prostitution; 7) managing the sense of stigmatization by persons who know about her prostitution by shifting focus away from devaluing and toward valuable qualities of prostitution; 8) developing occupational esteem and self-esteem through reflection of values; 9) compassion towards other people who suffer from stigma; and 10) resiliency.
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