Tag Archives: Street Work


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.

Villacampa, C., Torres, N., Effects of the criminalizing policy of sex work in Spain,
International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice (2013),


The aim of this study is to analyse the effects on sex workers of new regulations that ban the practice of street prostitution in Spain. This country has not traditionally maintained a clear policy regarding prostitution. However, in recent years there has been a clear turn towards the criminalization of behaviours related to voluntary prostitution. The city councils of several Spanish cities have banned the practice of street prostitution and sanctioned it with fines issued to both prostitutes and clients. Even if few studies on prostitution have been carried out in Spain, none of them had yet analysed the effects of the adoption of civic ordinances on sex workers.

In this paper we present the results of an empirical research carried out with a sample of 79 sex workers – in 20 cases with in-depth interviews – to explore the effects of the new regulation on their labour conditions.

Policy actions undertaken in Spain with regard to street prostitution are very far from leading to
the situation desired by the sex workers who made up the study sample, especially at a time when
the offensive against street sex work is intensifying. The adoption of a soft prohibitionist model
trough the approval of municipal ordinances, which prohibit the purchase and the selling of sexual
services as well as the practise of paid sex in public spaces, has shown its ineffectiveness so far.
However, bearing in mind the limited effects that this policy is having on improving the living
conditions of street sex workers, perhaps the adoption of a legalizing approach would be more
operational. This will probably not lead to the avowed goal of eradicating the practice of sex work,
but at least it would dignify the living conditions of those who work voluntarily in this field.


Prior, Jason/Crofts, Penny/Hubbard, Phil (2013): Planning, Law, and Sexuality: Hiding Immorality in Plain View, in: Geographical Research.

DOI: 10.1111/1745-5871.12033


Emerging research in sexuality and space outlines the diverse forms of spatial governmentality used to discipline non-normative sexual behaviours, exploring how exclusion, concealment, and repression combines to ensure that ‘immoral’ sexualities are out of the sight of the ‘moral majority’. In this paper, we explore this contention in relation to planning for sex service premises (brothels) in New South Wales, Australia. Though such sex service premises are now legal, our analysis nonetheless considers the way that these premises have been subject to forms of planning constraint that reflect planners’ assumptions about the appropriate manifestation of sex premises within the urban landscape. By exposing the assumptions written into planning law that sex premises are legal but potentially disorderly, we demonstrate the evidential power of planning to reinforce dominant moral geographies through instruments which, at first glance, appear to be focused on objective questions of amenity and the ‘best use of land’. This paper hence explores the ways in which planners have translated assumptions of disorder into categories of visibility and distance, meaning that brothels have become hidden in plain view so as not to disturb the integrity of residential ‘family’ spaces.

Martin Mbonye et al (2013): ‘It is like a tomato stall where someone can pick what he likes’: structure and practices of female sex work in Kampala, Uganda, BMC Public Health 2013, 13:741 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-741.

Full paper available here


Effective interventions among female sex workers require a thorough knowledge of the
context of local sex industries. We explore the organisation of female sex work in a low
socio-economic setting in Kampala, Uganda.

We conducted a qualitative study with 101 participants selected from an epidemiological
cohort of 1027 women at high risk of HIV in Kampala. Repeat in-depth life history and work
practice interviews were conducted from March 2010 to June 2011. Context specific factors f female sex workers’ day-to-day lives were captured. Reported themes were identified and
categorised inductively.

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