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Abstract

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.

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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.

Abstract
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

Articles:

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
Nicola Mai

Precarious or Protected? Evaluating Work Quality in the Legal Sex Industry
Alice Orchiston

Transnational Social Mobility Strategies and Quality of Work Among Latin-American Women Sex Workers in Spain
Laura Oso

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.

Jane Dodsworth (2013): Sexual Exploitation, Selling and Swapping Sex: Victimhood and Agency, in: Child Abuse Review. 

Abstract:

Drawing on a qualitative study of women involved in sex work in the UK, this paper focuses on the participants who became involved in sexual exploitation or, what some of them saw as, selling or swapping sex for non-monetary ‘payment’, under the age of 18. A central aim of the study was to develop an understanding of how the meaning ascribed to risk and protective factors influenced perceptions of victimhood and agency. Findings indicate that the key determinants of pathway outcomes were: whether, and how, the search for approval and affection was resolved; whether feeling ‘different’ led to a sense of defeat or strengthened resolve; whether coping strategies were adaptive or maladaptive; and whether individuals experienced the availability of a secure base. The findings suggest the need for policy which acknowledges the expertise and views of the young people involved, recognises the importance of early intervention, and is holistic in service provision not only for young people who are victims of sexual exploitation, but also for those who perceive that they have exercised agency, albeit from limited options, about their involvement in selling or swapping sex. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

‘How the meaning ascribed to risk and protective factors influenced perceptions of victimhood and agency’

Key Practitioner Messages

  • Policy and service provision must acknowledge the agency, expertise and views of the young people involved in sexual exploitation.
  • We need to build on the good practice already in existence in continuing to develop a model of intervention which promotes security and resilience.
  • Service interventions with young people involved in or at risk of sexual exploitation, selling and swapping sex must be trust building, respectful, relationship based, solution focused and strengths based.

‘Service interventions must be trust building, respectful, relationship based, solution focused and strengths based’

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.

Abstract

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.

The Author

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.


Introduction

Over the last 20 years, the governments of various Western nations have significantly changed their approach to managing prostitution and street solicitation. Several have attempted to tackle the problem through revised legislation. Little consensus exists, however, with regard to the most appropriate legislative response; and in various countries, attempts to adopt new laws (whether to enact or dismantle criminal legislation) have met with fierce controversy.

In June 2003, for instance, the New Zealand Parliament repealed a series of century-old laws prohibiting soliciting, running brothels, and living off the avails of prostitution. The private member’s bill passed by a margin of only one vote: 60 to 59, with one abstention. (1) In contrast, France, which licensed brothels during the 19th and early 20th centuries, has recently begun to move towards criminalizing more aspects of the prostitution trade. (2) Read More