Sex workers have reported a history of stigma associated with their identity and labor, which has resulted in numerous barriers to justice, social services, and healthcare. The current study aimed to experimentally investigate the effects of sex work stigma on observers’ victim blame and empathy toward sexual assault survivors. The participants included 197 undergraduate students from the Midwestern US who were randomly assigned to read a newspaper article reporting a sexual assault in which the victim’s identity was manipulated as a sex worker or a non-sex worker between the conditions. Results indicated participants assigned to the article describing the rape of a sex worker responded to the article with statistically less victim empathy and more victim blame than participants who read an article describing the rape of a non-sex worker. Integrating stigma theory and qualitative research on sex work stigma, the implications of the results demonstrate a significant barrier sex workers may face within the criminal justice system when reporting acts of violence against them. Recommendations for sex work decriminalization, changing the conversation of academic discourse on sex work, and educational initiatives are proposed to reduce the stigma of this marginalized population.
Lyons, Tara, Andrea Krüsi, Leslie Pierre, Will Small, and Kate Shannon. “The Impact of Construction and Gentrification on an Outdoor Trans Sex Work Environment: Violence, Displacement and Policing.” Sexualities, January 10, 2017, 1363460716676990. doi:10.1177/1363460716676990.
The objective of this study was to investigate how environmental and structural changes to a trans outdoor work environment impacted sex workers in Vancouver, Canada. The issue of changes to the work area arose during qualitative interviews with 33 trans sex workers. In response, ethnographic walks that incorporated photography were undertaken with trans sex workers. Changes to the work environment were found to increase vulnerabilities to client violence, displace trans sex workers, and affect policing practices. Within a criminalized context, construction and gentrification enhanced vulnerabilities to violence and harassment from police and residents.
This report summarizes the findings of a human rights documentation project conducted by the Sex Workers Project in 2007 and 2008 to explore the impacts and effectiveness of current anti-trafficking approaches in the US from a variety of perspectives. It is among the first efforts since the passage of the TVPA to give voice to the perspectives of trafficked persons and sex workers who have experienced anti-trafficking raids. A total of 46 people were interviewed for this report, including immigrant sex workers and trafficked persons who have experienced raids or otherwise had contact with law enforcement, along with service providers, attorneys, and law enforcement personnel.
The data collected from this small to medium-sized sample is extremely rich, and suggests that vice raids conducted by local law enforcement agencies are an ineffective means of locating and identifying trafficked persons. Our research also reveals that vice raids and federal anti-trafficking raids are all too frequently accompanied by violations of the human rights of trafficked persons and sex workers alike, and can therefore be counterproductive to the underlying goals of anti-trafficking initiatives. Our findings suggest that a rights-based and “victim-centered” approach to trafficking in persons requires the development and promotion of alternate methods of identifying and protecting the rights of trafficked persons which prioritize the needs, agency, and self-determination of trafficking survivors. They also indicate that preventative approaches, which address the circumstances that facilitate trafficking in persons, should be pursued over law enforcement based responses.
Legislative approaches to the sex industry are hotly debated internationally and in recent years interest in decriminalization of sex work has been growing. However, activities relating to commercial sex remain criminalized in many parts of the world. Street-based sex work is most often criminalized and is often more aggressively policed than indoor work. This paper explores changes in the relationship between police and street sex workers in New Zealand since the decriminalization of sex work in 2003, from the perspective of sex workers, police and support agencies. This paper concludes that decriminalization enabled a dramatic shift in the approach to policing sex work and emphasizes the importance of these findings in the context of global debates on prostitution law reform.
For female street sex workers in Britain, selling sex means managing risks. Violence from male clients, harassment from community protesters and criminalisation through overpolicing are daily hazards on the street. Using qualitative data and extensive field observations of the street market in Birmingham, UK, it is argued in this paper that street sex workers do not passively accept these risks but, instead, manage occupational hazards by manipulating, separating, controlling and resisting urban spaces. Women actively use space to inform their collective and individual working practices to minimise harm and maximise profits. However, the findings conclude that sites of street prostitution are made increasingly dangerous for women through punitive policing policies, conservative heterosexual discourses and a lack of realistic prostitution policy that addresses the central issues relating to commercial sex.
Editorial – Blurred Lines: The Contested Nature of Sex Work in a Changing Social Landscape, Laura Connelly, Laura Jarvis-King and Gemma Ahearne
Saving us from penetration – ponderings from a trans rentboy, Jet Young
Between the Sex Industry and Academia: Navigating Stigma and Disgust, Gemma Ahearne
Yeah, they’ve started to get a bit fucking cocky …’ Culture, Economic Change and Shifting Power Relations within the Scottish Lap-Dancing Industry, Billie Lister
Victor or victim? Foregrounding the independent escort experience outside of the polarised debate, Rae Story and Glen Jankowski
Direct sex work in Great Britain: reflecting diversity, Jane Pitcher
The changing landscape of Scottish responses to sex work: addressing violence against sex workers, Emma Smith
Contested spaces: Exploring the intersections of migration, sex work and trafficking in South Africa, Rebecca Walker and Elsa Oliveira
The ‘Rescue Industry’: The blurred line between help and hindrance, Laura Connelly
Photo Essay Tony Stone