English Collective of Prostitutes. Decriminalisation of Prostitution: the Evidence. Report of parliamentary symposium, 3 November 2015, House of Commons, 2016.
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This chapter describes my experiences of conducting research on commercial sex in Belfast, Northern Ireland, which was conducted as part of a larger British Academy–Leverhulme Trust-funded study that examined the policing and legal regulation of commercial sex in Belfast (Northern Ireland) along with three other cities: Manchester (England), Berlin (Germany) and Prague (Czech Republic). This study provided the first empirical analysis of commercial sex in the jurisdiction and was instrumental in shedding light on prevalence rates for those involved in the industry as well as providing demographic information on the age, nationality and sexual orientation of sex workers along with the sector worked in, whether on-street or off-street (Ellison 2015). While academics and researchers are now well attuned to the varieties and differences in the organisation of commercial sex both within and between jurisdictions, what is less well studied and understood are the ways in which attitudes to commercial sex are deeply embedded in local political cultures (Ellison 2015; Zimmerman 2012). In the chapter, I consider my role as a researcher and highlight some of the difficulties that I experienced conducting what was seen as controversial research in the politically, socially and culturally conservative context of Northern Ireland. In this respect, I situate the discussion within the Northern Ireland Assembly’s decision to legislate for Lord Morrow’s (of the Democratic Unionist Party, henceforth DUP) Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Further Provisions and Support for Victims) Bill that included a number of provisions to provide support to victims of human trafficking but controversially also included specific provisions to make it a criminal offence to ‘pay for the sexual services of a person’ (Clause 15) in emulation of the so-called ‘Nordic model’ of criminalisation of demand.
A large-scale study of working conditions in UK-based strip dancing clubs reveals that dancers are against de facto self-employment as it is defined and practised by management, but in favour of de jure self-employment that ensures sufficient levels of autonomy and control in the workplace. While dancers could potentially seek ‘worker’ or ‘employee’ status within the existing legal framework, their strong identification with the label ‘self-employed’ and their desire for autonomy will likely inhibit these labour rights claims. We propose an alternative avenue for improving dancers’ working conditions, whereby self-employed dancers articulate their grievances as a demand for decent work, pursued through licensing agreements between clubs and local authorities and facilitated by collective organization.
The Student Sex Work Project was set up in 2012 in the United Kingdom (UK) to locate students who are involved in the sex industry, to discover their motivations and needs, and in doing so provide an evidence base to consider the development of policy and practice within Higher Education. As part of this initiative, a large survey was undertaken comprising students from throughout the UK. Reporting on the findings from this survey, the article sheds some light on what occupations students take up in the sex industry, what motivates their participation and how they experience the work. The study also offers a much-needed empirical input to the ongoing academic debates on the nature of sex work. The results suggest that there can be little doubt of a student presence within the sex industry in the UK. The motivations and experiences of student sex workers cover elements of agency and choice as well as of force and exploitation and it is suggested that student sex work is best understood from a polymorphous framework which leaves room for a wide variety of experiences and challenges.
The 1889 “Cleveland Street Scandal” in London, which exposed a male brothel offering telegraph boys to elite men for sexual services, has long been recognized and evaluated as a window into late Victorian homoerotic subcultures and regulatory legislation. By focusing on the telegraph boys’ contribution to the scandal, particularly their roles as information service providers in relation to the broader ideologies associated with telecommunications work in this period, the scandal takes on new meanings for queer history. It reveals the relationship between queer urban encounters and the growth of clandestine communications surveillance in Britain and opens up possibilities for re-prioritizing service labor in historical accounts of queer interactions and subjectivities.
Maginn, Paul and Ellison, Graham, ‘Ulster Says No’: Regulating the Consumption of Commercial Sex Spaces and Services in Northern Ireland (September 13, 2016). Urban Studies, Forthcoming.
Commercial forms of sex such as prostitution/sex work, strip clubs and even sex shops have been the subject of much political debate and policy regulation over the last decade or so in the UK and Ireland. These myriad forms of commercial sex and land usage have managed to survive and even thrive in the face of public outcry and regulation. Despite being part of the UK we suggest that Northern Ireland has steered its own regulatory course, whereby the consumption of commercial sexual spaces and services have been the subject of intense moral and legal oversight in ways that are not apparent in other UK regions. Nevertheless, in spite of this we also argue that the context of Northern Ireland may provide some lessons for the ways that religious values and moral reasoning can influence debates on commercial sex elsewhere.
Full text available here.
In the run-up to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, the Brazilian government engaged in a militarized campaign to clean up favelas, blighted areas, and red-light districts so that it could “develop” them. Based on ethnographic work in Rio de Janeiro, London, and Cape Town, this article argues that there is a pattern in host cities of such events in which neoliberal agents, state forces, and nongovernmental organizations use discourses of feminism and human rights—especially unfounded fears about a link between sex trafficking and sports—to enact such changes regardless of the political economic conditions or systems of governance. By destroying safe and legal venues for sex work, these actors have created the very exploitation they purport to prevent. The article also links these actions to US foreign policy mandates and a broader shift in governmentality in Brazil predicated on performing a commitment to sexual diversity, including promoting gay rights and tourism, and advancing liberal notions of sexual progress that, in actuality, marginalize more vulnerable sexual populations.