This paper aims to identify the reasons why sex workers strike/occupy churches comparing the sex workers strikes/church occupations in France (1975) and the UK (1982). In order to understand why “sex workers” strike, the paper briefly introduces the available literature on why workers strike. Noting the differences between workers’ and sex workers’ strikes, the former usually being unionised and the latter being nonunionised, and with the latter’s emphasis on non-material rather than material interests, the paper also explores theories on new social movements, collective action and contentious politics. With these theoretical discussions in mind, the events leading to the sex workers’ strikes/church occupations in France and the UK are briefly described. After this description, the paper presents a comparative analysis of the reasons underlying the two cases of strike/church occupation. The research question is answered in this paper. The basic argument is that despite the fact that France has a more closed, and the UK has a more open political input structure, the reasons underlying sex workers’ strikes/church occupations are similar and that sex workers’ strikes were part of the general strike wave in Europe. In both cases, the available repertoire of action was exhausted before going on strike. The basic actors in both cases were the police, the law, politicians, organised crime, pimps and sex workers themselves. In both cases, the choice of church occupation as a form of action was inherited from other social movements and was a strategic rather than a symbolic choice. The main difference between the two cases is that the sex workers that struck in the UK was more organised than their French counterparts. While the strikers in France had the Nid as their ally while those in the UK had Black Women for wages for housework and women against rape. The basic argument is that sex workers in these two cases struck due to an amalgamation of material and non-material interests. It calls for the amalgamation of Marxist, feminist, new social movements, social movements and collective action theories to set up an analytical framework to study sex workers’ strikes. In order to refrain from eclecticism while doing so, the paper suggests going to the field. In conclusion, the paper also touches upon the factors that should be taken into account before continuing strikes as a form of action for the state’s recognition of sex work as work, and the extension of social, economic and political rights to sex workers.
This article examines the changing dynamics of a postwar British inner-city through the photographic lens of Janet Mendelsohn, an American student at the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. Between 1967 and 1969 Mendelsohn took more than 3,000 photographs and conducted scores of interviews with her subjects, although hitherto her work has remained largely unknown. Through her focus on Balsall Heath, one of the country’s largest ‘red light’ districts, Mendelsohn’s work offers a window onto the significant changes taking place there, which included the arrival and settlement of immigrants from the Caribbean and South Asia, the advancement of slum clearance and growing anxieties about prostitution. Through the distinctiveness of her ‘social eye’ and emphasis on the life of a single sex-worker in Balsall Heath this article shows how Mendelsohn was able to foreground the ambiguous, contradictory nature of the social practices that took place there.
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 uses Jonathan Simon’s concept of ‘governing through crime’ as a framework to argue that the state has framed sex work, and its surrounding problems, as issues of crime. There has been a privileging and proliferation of criminal justice responses to sex work in England and Wales, at the expense of more social or welfare-based responses and at the expense of creating safer environments for sex workers to work. Criminal law is used to manage and control sex work, to reinforce other policies, such as immigration and border control, and to appear to be doing something about the ‘problem’ of sex work without providing rights to sex workers. By framing sex work as an issue of crime, with sex workers being both the perpetrators of crime and the potential victims of exploitative crime, the state is able to legitimise its actions against sex workers, while ignoring the harm done to sex workers by the state.
Sociological Research Online 21(4), November 2016: Peer Reviewed Special Section: Exploitation and Its Opposite. Researching the quality of working life in the sex industries
Guest Editors: Stef Adriaenssens, Giulia Garofalo Geymonat and Laura Oso
Quality of Work in Prostitution and Sex Work: Introduction to the Special Section
Stef Adriaenssens, Giulia Garofalo Geymonat and Laura Oso
On Our Own Terms: The Working Conditions of Internet-Based Sex Workers in the UK
Teela Sanders, Laura Connelly and Laura Jarvis King
Work Conditions and Job Mobility in the Australian Indoor Sex Industry
Fairleigh Evelyn Gilmour
Too Much Suffering’: Understanding the Interplay Between Migration, Bounded Exploitation and Trafficking Through Nigerian Sex Workers’ Experiences
Precarious or Protected? Evaluating Work Quality in the Legal Sex Industry
Transnational Social Mobility Strategies and Quality of Work Among Latin-American Women Sex Workers in Spain
Ambivalent Professionalisation and Autonomy in Workers’ Collective Projects: The Cases of Sex Worker Peer Educators in Germany and Sexual Assistants in Switzerland
Giulia Garofalo Geymonat and P.G. Macioti
All articles are freely accessible here.
Jamela, Joanna. An Investigation of the Incidence of Client-Perpetrated Sexual Violence Against Male Sex Workers. International Journal of Sexual Health Volume 23, Issue 1, 2011.
This article discusses exploratory research investigating the incidence and context of client-perpetrated sexual violence against male sex workers. Four different methods (Web-based surveys, tick-box questionnaires, telephone, and face-to-face interviews) were employed in this study of 50 male escorts. The qualitative data were analyzed using an adapted form of grounded theory. It was found that client-perpetrated sexual violence within male sex work appears to be uncommon. However, when sexual violence did occur the cause was a disagreement over barebacking. Escorts’ explanations for the low level of sexual violence within this sector included (1) that gay men were non-confrontational, (2) their clients led clandestine lifestyles avoiding undue attention, and (3) comparatively, female sex workers were perceived to be more vulnerable resulting in the higher level of sexual violence within the female sex work industry.
Dr. Joanna Jamel is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Kingston University, London. She has a multi-disciplinary background in Sociology, Investigative and Forensic Psychology as well as being a Criminologist. Her current research areas include the policing response to transgender issues. She has conducted previous research on male rape examining the police response to this type of sexual victimization with the assistance of Project Sapphire of the London Metropolitan Police. The findings of this research were disseminated to Project Sapphire and the Crime Academy to inform specialist police training and have also been used by West Mercia Police in this regard. She has also conducted research investigating client-perpetrated sexual violence within the commercial male sex industry, and the print media representation of male rape. Her other research interests include rape victim resistance strategies and transphobic hate crime.
Full text available here.