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Tag Archives: Stigma and Discrimination

McMillan, Karen, Heather Worth, und Patrick Rawstorne. „Usage of the Terms Prostitution, Sex Work, Transactional Sex, and Survival Sex: Their Utility in HIV Prevention Research“. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 5. Januar 2018, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-017-1140-0.
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This article considers the terms prostitution, sex work, transactional sex, and survival sex, the logic of their deployment and utility to research concerned with people who are paid for sex, and HIV. The various names for paid sex in HIV research are invested in strategically differentiated positionings of people who receive payment and emphasize varying degrees of choice. The terminologies that seek to distinguish a range of economically motivated paid sex practices from sex work are characterized by an emphasis on the local and the particular, efforts to evade the stigma attached to the labels sex worker and prostitute, and an analytic prioritizing of culture. This works to bestow cultural legitimacy on some locally specific forms of paid sex and positions those practices as artifacts of culture rather than economy. This article contends that, in HIV research in particular, it is necessary to be cognizant of ways the deployment of alternative paid sex categories relocates and reinscribes stigma elsewhere. While local identity categories may be appropriate for program implementation, a global category is necessary for planning and funding purposes and offers a purview beyond that of isolated local phenomena. We argue that “sex work” is the most useful global term for use in research into economically motivated paid sex and HIV, primarily because it positions paid sex as a matter of labor, not culture or morality.
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Sex workers have reported a history of stigma associated with their identity and labor, which has resulted in numerous barriers to justice, social services, and healthcare. The current study aimed to experimentally investigate the effects of sex work stigma on observers’ victim blame and empathy toward sexual assault survivors. The participants included 197 undergraduate students from the Midwestern US who were randomly assigned to read a newspaper article reporting a sexual assault in which the victim’s identity was manipulated as a sex worker or a non-sex worker between the conditions. Results indicated participants assigned to the article describing the rape of a sex worker responded to the article with statistically less victim empathy and more victim blame than participants who read an article describing the rape of a non-sex worker. Integrating stigma theory and qualitative research on sex work stigma, the implications of the results demonstrate a significant barrier sex workers may face within the criminal justice system when reporting acts of violence against them. Recommendations for sex work decriminalization, changing the conversation of academic discourse on sex work, and educational initiatives are proposed to reduce the stigma of this marginalized population.

In this article, we present and discuss the intended and unintended effects of the Swedish Sex Purchase Act, which criminalises the purchase of sex within a context where the sale of sex is legal. Whether or not this means of regulating prostitution is successful, and whether it has negative consequences for people who sell sex, are important questions in international policy and academic debates. This article builds on a scoping study aimed at identifying relevant sources of information as to the consequences of the Swedish Sex Purchase Act, then summarising and discussing these findings. The article offers policy makers and scholars a comprehensive presentation of the evidence and a discussion of the methodological, political and theoretical challenges arising from this.

Benoit, Cecilia, S. Mikael Jansson, Michaela Smith, and Jackson Flagg. “Prostitution Stigma and Its Effect on the Working Conditions, Personal Lives, and Health of Sex Workers.” The Journal of Sex Research, November 17, 2017, 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2017.1393652.
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Researchers have shown that stigma is a fundamental determinant of behavior, well-being, and health for many marginalized groups, but sex workers are notably absent from their analyses. This article aims to fill the empirical research gap on sex workers by reviewing the mounting evidence of stigmatization attached to sex workers’ occupation, often referred to as “prostitution” or “whore” stigma. We give special attention to its negative effect on the working conditions, personal lives, and health of sex workers. The article first draws attention to the problem of terminology related to the subject area and makes the case for consideration of prostitution stigmatization as a fundamental cause of social inequality. We then examined the sources of prostitution stigma at macro, meso, and micro levels. The third section focuses on tactics sex workers employ to manage, reframe, or resist occupational stigma. We conclude with a call for more comparative studies of stigma related to sex work to contribute to the general stigma literature, as well as social policy and law reform.

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One fifth of the Bruges prostitutes in the eighteenth century was prosecuted by the bench of aldermen because their family had requested this. Families called in the help of the court firstly because they were worried about their daughters, wives and sisters and secondly because the sexual reputation of their deviant relatives affected their own lives as well. Families lost their honour because sexual debauchery was a sign of mal education and because it revealed that the family was not able to control the behaviour of its womenfolk. Therefore, prostitutes were, as the eighteenth century synonym seems to indicate, ‘dishonest’ towards their parents. In general, families only went to court when their daughters proved unruly, which is when the families did not succeed in adjusting the dishonest behaviour themselves. When they did go to court, they put great effort in proving ‘good parenthood’ because they had to counterbalance the stigma of dishonesty already affecting them. The bench of aldermen was willing to help honest families with controlling their unruly daughters, partly because the city had a fatherly responsibility over its own citizens. Hence, the Bruges dishonest daughters were imprisoned in the spinning or correction house.
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Full article available here.

Gregory Swedberg; Moralizing Public Space: Prostitution, Disease, and Social Disorder in Orizaba, Mexico, 1910–1945, Journal of Social History, 2017https://doi.org/10.1093/jsh/shx083

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This article explores how women working as prostitutes in Orizaba, Mexico, laid claim to a more revolutionary vision of women’s citizenship. Prostitutes pushed the state to realize the promises of the Mexican Revolution, even as officials and many local residents—rich and poor—retained outmoded notions of gender and citizenship. This research indicates that “respectable” poor and working-class individuals gravitated toward traditional gender values so as to position themselves as respectable in the eyes of state agents charged with policing morality and public health. State officials’ rhetoric of egalitarianism that followed the Mexican Revolution fell flat for the public women whose pecuniary position persisted long after the guns fell silent.

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There is a notable shift toward more repression and criminalization in sex work policies, in Europe and elsewhere. So-called neo-abolitionism reduces sex work to trafficking, with increased policing and persecution as a result. Punitive “demand reduction” strategies are progressively more popular. These developments call for a review of what we know about the effects of punishing and repressive regimes vis-à-vis sex work. From the evidence presented, sex work repression and criminalization are branded as “waterbed politics” that push and shove sex workers around with an overload of controls and regulations that in the end only make things worse. It is illustrated how criminalization and repression make it less likely that commercial sex is worker-controlled, non-abusive, and non-exploitative. Criminalization is seriously at odds with human rights and public health principles. It is concluded that sex work criminalization is barking up the wrong tree because it is fighting sex instead of crime and it is not offering any solution for the structural conditions that sex work (its ugly sides included) is rooted in. Sex work repression travels a dead-end street and holds no promises whatsoever for a better future. To fight poverty and gendered inequalities, the criminal justice system simply is not the right instrument. The reasons for the persistent stigma on sex work as well as for its present revival are considered.