Neuwelt-Kearns, Caitlin, Tom Baker, and Octavia Calder-Dawe. 2020. ‘Informal Governance and the Spatial Management of Street-Based Sex Work in Aotearoa New Zealand’. Political Geography
79 (May): 102154. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2020.102154
While informality has long been studied as a feature of governance in the global South, a growing range of accounts examine informal governing arrangements as endemic to cities and nations of the global North. This paper contributes to such scholarship by drawing attention to informal practices and mechanisms involved in the spatial management of sex work in the global North. Existing literature on the spatial management of sex work has long emphasised how informality shapes local sex work practices and mediates formal state-based regulation. We synthesise these studies to suggest three modes of informal governance: as component, catalyst and alternative to formal regulation. Through a case study of street-based sex work management in Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand, we discuss how informal governance emerged as a de facto component of formal regulation at the national scale and an alternative to formal regulation at the local scale. Specifically, we detail how an ambiguous regulatory environment, combined with highly localised understandings of spatial appropriateness, led to and influenced the informal management of sex work through a community-level partnership between local authorities, residents and sex worker advocates. In doing so, the paper advocates for more attention to the multi-modal and multi-scalar aspects of informal governance.
Connelly, L., Kamerāde, D., & Sanders, T. (2018). Violent and Nonviolent Crimes Against Sex Workers: The Influence of the Sex Market on Reporting Practices in the United Kingdom. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260518780782
Previous research has shown that sex workers experience extremely high rates of victimization but are often reluctant to report their experiences to the police. This article explores how the markets in which sex workers operate in the United Kingdom impact upon the violent and nonviolent crimes they report to a national support organization and their willingness to report victimization to the police. We use a secondary quantitative data analysis of 2,056 crime reports submitted to the U.K. National Ugly Mugs (NUM) scheme between 2012 and 2016. The findings indicate that although violence is the most common crime type reported to NUM, sex workers operating in different markets report varying relative proportions of different types of victimization. We also argue that there is some variation in the level of willingness to share reports with the police across the different sex markets, even when the types of crime, presence of violence, and other variables are taken into account. Our finding that street sex workers are most likely to report victimization directly to the police challenges previously held assumptions that criminalization is the key factor preventing sex workers from engaging with the police.
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.
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.
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.