Hoefinger, Heidi, Jennifer Musto, P. G. Macioti, Anne E. Fehrenbacher, Nicola Mai, Calum Bennachie, and Calogero Giametta. 2020. ‘Community-Based Responses to Negative Health Impacts of Sexual Humanitarian Anti-Trafficking Policies and the Criminalization of Sex Work and Migration in the US’. Social Sciences 9 (1): 1. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci9010001.
System-involvement resulting from anti-trafficking interventions and the criminalization of sex work and migration results in negative health impacts on sex workers, migrants, and people with trafficking experiences. Due to their stigmatized status, sex workers and people with trafficking experiences often struggle to access affordable, unbiased, and supportive health care. This paper will use thematic analysis of qualitative data from in-depth interviews and ethnographic fieldwork with 50 migrant sex workers and trafficked persons, as well as 20 key informants from legal and social services, in New York and Los Angeles. It will highlight the work of trans-specific and sex worker–led initiatives that are internally addressing gaps in health care and the negative health consequences that result from sexual humanitarian anti-trafficking interventions that include policing, arrest, court-involvement, court-mandated social services, incarceration, and immigration detention. Our analysis focuses on the impact of criminalization on sex workers and their experiences with sexual humanitarian efforts intended to protect and control them. We argue that these grassroots community-based efforts are a survival-oriented reaction to the harms of criminalization and a response to vulnerabilities left unattended by mainstream sexual humanitarian approaches to protection and service provision that frame sex work itself as the problem. Peer-to-peer interventions such as these create solidarity and resiliency within marginalized communities, which act as protective buffers against institutionalized systemic violence and the resulting negative health outcomes. Our results suggest that broader public health support and funding for community-led health initiatives are needed to reduce barriers to health care resulting from stigma, criminalization, and ineffective anti-trafficking and humanitarian efforts. We conclude that the decriminalization of sex work and the reform of institutional practices in the US are urgently needed to reduce the overall negative health outcomes of system-involvement. View Full-Text
Connelly, L., Kamerāde, D., & Sanders, T. (2018). Violent and Nonviolent Crimes Against Sex Workers: The Influence of the Sex Market on Reporting Practices in the United Kingdom. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260518780782
Previous research has shown that sex workers experience extremely high rates of victimization but are often reluctant to report their experiences to the police. This article explores how the markets in which sex workers operate in the United Kingdom impact upon the violent and nonviolent crimes they report to a national support organization and their willingness to report victimization to the police. We use a secondary quantitative data analysis of 2,056 crime reports submitted to the U.K. National Ugly Mugs (NUM) scheme between 2012 and 2016. The findings indicate that although violence is the most common crime type reported to NUM, sex workers operating in different markets report varying relative proportions of different types of victimization. We also argue that there is some variation in the level of willingness to share reports with the police across the different sex markets, even when the types of crime, presence of violence, and other variables are taken into account. Our finding that street sex workers are most likely to report victimization directly to the police challenges previously held assumptions that criminalization is the key factor preventing sex workers from engaging with the police.
Rarely addressed in academic scholarship, the puttan tour is a well-known form of entertainment in Italy where young men drive around in small groups with the aim of spotting street sex workers. On some occasions, the participants will approach the sex workers to strike up a conversation. On others, they will shout out insults from their car then drive away. This article aims to advance a detailed analysis of this underexplored cultural practice drawing on a diverse body of scholarship exploring the intersection of masculinity, leisure, and homosociality. By analyzing stories of puttan tours gathered mostly online, including written accounts and YouTube videos, our aim is to explore the appeal of the puttan tour through an analysis of how homosociality, humor, and laughter operate in this example of gendered fun. To this end, we look at the multiple and often equivocal meanings of this homosocial male-bonding ritual, its emotional and affective dynamics, and the ways in which it reproduces structures of inequality while normalizing violence against sex workers.
Lorway, Robert, Lisa Lazarus, Claudyne Chevrier, Shamshad Khan, Helgar K. Musyoki, John Mathenge, Peninah Mwangi, u. a. „Ecologies of security: On the everyday security tactics of female sex workers in Nairobi, Kenya“. Global Public Health 0, Nr. 0 (5. März 2018): 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1080/17441692.2018.1442487.
This paper highlights important environmental dimensions of HIV vulnerability by describing how the sex trade operates in Nairobi, Kenya. Although sex workers there encounter various forms of violence and harassment, as do sex workers globally, we highlight how they do not merely fall victim to a set of environmental risks but also act upon their social environment, thereby remaking it, as they strive to protect their health and financial interests. In so doing, we illustrate the mutual constitution of ‘agency’ and ‘structure’ in social network formations that take shape in everyday lived spaces. Our findings point to the need to expand the focus of interventions to consider local ecologies of security in order to place the local knowledges, tactics, and capacities that communities might already possess on centre stage in interventions. Planning, implementing, and monitoring interventions with a consideration of these ecologies would tie interventions not only to the risk reduction goals of global public health policy, but also to the very real and grounded financial priorities of what it means to try to safely earn a living through sex work.
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.
Melissa Ditmore, Sex Workers Project, “The Use of Raids to Fight Trafficking in Persons”. New York: Urban Justice Center, 2009
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.
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