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Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 42;

Sex Work and the Politics of Space: Case Studies of Sex Workers in Argentina and Ecuador

Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA
Academic Editor: Leslie Jeffrey
Received: 21 February 2017 / Revised: 5 April 2017 / Accepted: 11 April 2017 / Published: 19 April 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sex Workers’ Rights: Looking toward the Future)
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While many studies examine how different legal approaches to prostitution affect sex workers’ living and working conditions, few studies analyze how sex workers’ physical workspaces and the policies regulating these spaces influence sex work conditions. Based on interviews with 109 current or former sex workers, 13 civil society representatives, 12 government officials, and 5 other actors in Ecuador and Argentina, this study describes sex workers’ uses of urban space in the two countries and compares how they experience and respond to government regulation of locations of prostitution. Argentina and Ecuador took different approaches to regulating sex work space, which appear to reflect different political ideologies towards prostitution. Sex workers expressed different individual preferences for spaces, and government limitation of these spaces represented one of their major concerns. The results illuminate how sex workers’ workspaces influence their working conditions and suggest that governments should consider sex worker preferences in establishing policies that affect their workspaces.


Mientras que muchos estudios examinan cómo las diferentes estrategias legales respecto a la prostitución afectan las condiciones de trabajo y de vida de las y los trabajadores sexuales, pocos estudios analizan cómo los espacios de trabajo físicos de las y los trabajadores sexuales y las políticas que regulan estos espacios influyen en las condiciones del trabajo sexual. Este estudio, basado en entrevistas con 109 trabajadores sexuales actuales o anteriores, 13 representantes de la sociedad civil, 12 funcionarios gubernamentales y otros 5 actores en Ecuador y Argentina, describe los usos del espacio urbano por parte de las y los trabajadores sexuales en los dos países y compara cómo experimentan y responden a la regulación gubernamental de lugares de prostitución. Argentina y Ecuador adoptaron diferentes estrategias para regular los espacios de trabajo sexual, las cuales parecen reflejar diferentes ideologías políticas hacia la prostitución. Las y los trabajadores sexuales expresaron diferentes preferencias individuales por los espacios, y la limitación gubernamental de estos espacios representó una de sus principales preocupaciones. Los resultados ilustran cómo los espacios de trabajo de las y los trabajadores sexuales influyen en sus condiciones de trabajo, y sugieren que los gobiernos deben considerar sus preferencias en el establecimiento de políticas que afectan sus espacios de trabajo. View Full-Text
Keywords: sex work; prostitution policy; urban space; regulation; Argentina; Ecuador sex work; prostitution policy; urban space; regulation; Argentina; Ecuador

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Van Meir, J. Sex Work and the Politics of Space: Case Studies of Sex Workers in Argentina and Ecuador. Soc. Sci. 2017, 6, 42.

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