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Tag Archives: Street Work

Cohen, Bernard. 2018. „Police Enforcement of Street Prostitution as a Quality-of-Life Offense: New York City, United States, and Frankfurt am Main, Germany“. Deviant Behavior 0 (0): 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/01639625.2018.1431096.
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Abstract
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The present paper compares how police in Hunts Point, South Bronx, New York City and Frankfurt am Main Germany manage street prostitution as a quality-of-life offense. Methods utilized for this research include observation and “conversation” in public spaces with prostitutes, police, and community members. This paper deals with characteristics of street prostitutes, police enforcement, actual interaction between police and street actors, and impact of these methods on prostitutes. For decades, broken windows policing has been utilized to counter quality-of-life offenses in urban neighborhoods such as NYC, and evidence regarding its effectiveness has often been questioned. In attempts to address prostitution, two variant policing models were identified and examined through the framework of broken windows theory: Punitive/Criminalization Policing and Containment/Laissez-Faire Policing. Broken windows policing probably lowered the incidence of quality-of-life offenses including street prostitution. However, broken windows theory does not take into account socially constructed myths that persist about prostitution, nor the realities that counter them. This paper addresses these myths and how they may inform policing practices, resulting in negative corollary effects which must be eliminated.
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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.

This article interrogates how the figure of the trans street-based sex worker is deployed to argue for positive intervention on behalf of trans individuals, in addition to how it is used at the expense of a variety of trans experiences of sex work. As a corollary, this article addresses how a nuanced account of trans sex work, responsive to these concerns, can provide the basis for a more robust conception of trans theory.
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In the last decades a series of sexual services that offer company, talk, and more generally, what is understood as a ‘girlfriend experience’, are increasingly offered to a middle and upper-middle class clientele. These services involve a change in the boundaries of intimacy. We argue that they can be interpreted as part of the general process by which late capitalism has subsumed the 1968 critique that demanded liberation and authenticity. Based on an analysis of in-depth interviews with escorts and street walkers, we explore the discourse of authenticity in escort work in Spain and how the line is drawn between an ‘authentic intimacy’ that is sold, and a ‘private intimacy’, which involves the non-commodified affective life of the sex worker. We argue that escorts and street walkers draw these borders differently, the former emphasising authenticity in their service. Both, however, deploy a form of emotional labour.

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In Vancouver, Canada, there has been a continuous shift in the policing of sex work away from arresting sex workers, which led to the implementation of a policing strategy that explicitly prioritised the safety of sex workers and continued to target sex workers’ clients. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 26 cisgender and five transgender women street-based sex workers about their working conditions. Data were analysed thematically and by drawing on concepts of structural stigma and vulnerability. Our results indicated that despite police rhetoric of prioritising the safety of sex workers, participants were denied their citizenship rights for police protection by virtue of their ‘risky’ occupation and were thus responsiblised for sex work related violence. Our findings further suggest that sex workers’ interactions with neighbourhood residents were predominantly shaped by a discourse of sex workers as a ‘risky’ presence in the urban landscape and police took swift action in removing sex workers in the case of complaints. This study highlights that intersecting regimes of stigmatisation and criminalisation continued to undermine sex workers citizenship rights to police protection and legal recourse and perpetuated labour conditions that render sex workers at increased risk for violence and poor health.

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Street-based sex work is commonly portrayed as a social nuisance in the urban landscape. However, a wealth of research has shown how sex workers on the street experience frequent harassment from other members of the public in the course of their work. This article explores the experience of street harassment among women working on the street in New Zealand, where sex work is decriminalized. In this article, I consider the social, legal, and cultural factors that underpin the street harassment that the women described. I consider the significance of this form of harassment when situated in the “workplace” of street workers in a decriminalized street-based sex industry. I argue that these experiences are inextricably linked to the continued subordination of women in contemporary society and to social norms regarding female sexuality. I argue that challenging this harassment is critical in supporting the human rights of street-based sex workers, but that doing so requires a fundamental shift in societal views on women and sexuality in general.

This article draws upon 18 months of participant observation with 50 street-based sex workers living in a transitional housing facility. Subsequent in-depth interviews with 50 different women actively working on the street also inform analysis presented here, which explores discursive practice as one of the most salient means by which women maneuver within a socio-legal system that targets them as individuals engaged in criminalized behavior. Findings presented in this article build upon the larger project’s goal of articulating the complex and highly individualized ways in which US street-based sex workers struggling with addiction negotiate the move from membership in a criminalized group to what more than a few women describe as “being a productive member of society.” Street-based sex workers engage in this complex shift while embedded in what I term an exclusionary regime, a dense coalescence of punitive forces which involve both governance in the form of the criminal justice system and engagement with the courts and other state agents, and regular patterns of action, including myriad forms of discrimination resulting from stigma. This article discusses three narrative forms that partially enable street-based sex workers to negotiate the exclusionary regime: recovery narratives, war stories, and nostalgia. These highly context-bound expressive forms function as powerful tools that help women to obtain resources and status, as well as convey the complexities of their experiences in ways that move beyond the otherwise constrained identities available to them.