Tag Archives: Stigma

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.
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.

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.

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.
Full article available here.

The regulation of sex work continues to be a divisive topic in England and internationally. Policies governing the policing of the sex industry in England are continually revised and debated, but are seldom grounded in empirical evidence of sex workers’ experiences. Based on 49 qualitative interviews with sex workers in England, this article finds that indoor sex workers had far more positive experiences with the police than outdoor sex workers. Despite this difference, both indoor and outdoor sex workers perceive their interactions with the police through the lens of their stigmatized status as sex workers and do not expect respectful treatment by the police. This article presents compelling evidence that an enforcement-led approach to policing creates insuperable barriers to the success of protective policing.

Elfriede Steffan, Barbara Kavemann, Tzvetina Arsova Netzelmann, Cornelia Helfferich: Final Report from the study of the federal model project “Support for Leaving Prostitution”, September 2015. 

Abridged report available here in English and German.

Original title of the report in German: Unterstützung des Ausstiegs aus der Prostitution – Kurzfassung des Abschlussberichtes der wissenschaftlichen Begleitung zum Bundesmodellprojekt

Decriminalisation: A harm minimisation and human rights approach to regulating sex work.

Author: Gillian Abel, PhD 2010
Ph.D. ThesisUniversity of Otago, Public Health Research


This thesis takes a community-based participatory approach, using mixed methods to examine the impact of the decriminalisation of sex work in New Zealand through the lens of a public health discourse of harm minimisation. The key question addressed in this thesis is whether decriminalisation has minimised the harms experienced by sex workers. Rather than taking a narrow view of harm minimisation and looking merely at the practices of sex workers, I have taken a more holistic stance, taking into account structural social issues which contribute to the health and wellbeing of sex workers. Data were collected through a survey of 772 sex workers and in-depth interviews with 58 sex workers in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Napier and Nelson. Estimates were done of the number of sex workers in these cities which show little change post-decriminalisation compared to estimates done prior to decriminalisation. There has been some change in the shape of the industry with more people working privately in the suburbs and fewer in the brothels and escort agencies but little change in size of the street-based sector. Such minimal change in the size of the sex industry is not surprising as the underlying motivations for working in this industry have not changed in a decriminalised environment. As this thesis demonstrates, structural factors (such as economic climate, employment opportunities, welfare, housing and sickness benefits) are associated with the entry into sex work rather than the way the industry is regulated.

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