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Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(3), 93; doi:10.3390/socsci6030093

“At-Risk” or “Socially Deviant”? Conflicting Narratives and Grassroots Organizing of Sex/Entertainment Workers and LGBT Communities in Cambodia

1
School of Liberal Arts, Berkeley College, 12 East 41st Street, New York, NY 10017, USA
2
Business Department, University of Cambodia, Northbridge Road, Phnom Penh 12000, Cambodia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 20 February 2017 / Revised: 28 July 2017 / Accepted: 3 August 2017 / Published: 14 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sex Workers’ Rights: Looking toward the Future)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [249 KB, uploaded 14 August 2017]

Abstract

Cambodia has experienced rapid economic development and increased globalization in the last two decades, which have influenced changes in sexual attitudes and politics. Yet deeply embedded patriarchal structures that promote adherence to traditional values, gender binaries, and sexual purity of women impede progress in the recognition of the rights of sex/entertainment workers and LGBT communities. Using the framework of sexual humanitarianism, this paper outlines the ways in which these constraints are compounded by two dominant conflicting narratives that place these groups as either at-risk and vulnerable or socially deviant, and deemed in need of interventions that protect and control. Drawing on over a decade of empirical research on the sex/entertainment industries, and broader gender/sexual landscape in Cambodia, as well as current social activism of the authors, this paper also describes the ways LGBT and sex worker communities are engaging in shared organizing and self-advocacy as strategies to address their needs and the consequences left in the wake of sexual humanitarian interventions. In order to contextualize their deeply-rooted legacy in Cambodia, the paper also provides an overview of past and contemporary gender/sexual norms and diversity, and concludes with a call for governments and policymakers to expand support for grassroots movements and to listen more closely to the voices of LGBT and sex worker communities so that the political and social needs of these groups can be addressed. View Full-Text
Keywords: LGBT communities; sex/entertainment workers; sexual humanitarianism; grassroots organizing; Cambodia LGBT communities; sex/entertainment workers; sexual humanitarianism; grassroots organizing; Cambodia
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Hoefinger, H.; Srun, S. “At-Risk” or “Socially Deviant”? Conflicting Narratives and Grassroots Organizing of Sex/Entertainment Workers and LGBT Communities in Cambodia. Soc. Sci. 2017, 6, 93.

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