Special Issue "Sex Workers’ Rights: Looking toward the Future"

A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 February 2017).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Leslie Jeffrey
Website
Guest Editor
Department of History & Politics, University of New Brunswick, Saint John, NB E2L 4L5, Canada
Interests: sex-work policy; trafficking policy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Globally, campaigns for national-level policychanges that recognize and protect the rights of sex workers have hit some major roadblocks, and even seen progress rolled-back by anti-trafficking policies and Nordic model re-criminalization - despite the example of New Zealand. As we prepare for more years of campaigning for change, what positive developments can we build on? Where is future progress likely to take place? Are we seeing positive changes at the local level or on smaller scales that might build toward larger-scale change in the future? This Special Issue looks to explore the positive changes that are happening beyond the big policy level. Are we, for example, seeing any positive developments in relations between the sex-workers’ rights and other social justice movements? Are there examples of improved communication or cooperation between sex workers and municipal governments, police forces, the media or local communities? Are there new forms of political or social organizing by sex-workers or signs of strengthening bonds between groups within the sex-work field including migrant and non-migrant workers? What positive developments are we seeing now that might provide a path forward?

Prof. Leslie Jeffrey
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Sex-workers’ rights
  • Sex work policy
  • Local politics and sex-work
  • Sex-worker activism

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
“At-Risk” or “Socially Deviant”? Conflicting Narratives and Grassroots Organizing of Sex/Entertainment Workers and LGBT Communities in Cambodia
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(3), 93; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci6030093 - 14 Aug 2017
Cited by 2
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sex Workers’ Rights: Looking toward the Future)
Open AccessArticle
“Well, It Should Be Changed for One, Because It’s Our Bodies”: Sex Workers’ Views on Canada’s Punitive Approach towards Sex Work
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci6020052 - 24 May 2017
Cited by 7
Abstract
Background: The regulation of sex work is contentious in all countries, including for governments, the public, and sex workers themselves. Research shows sex workers’ perspectives are ignored during policy formation in most cases. This is despite the fact they have unique insider knowledge [...] Read more.
Background: The regulation of sex work is contentious in all countries, including for governments, the public, and sex workers themselves. Research shows sex workers’ perspectives are ignored during policy formation in most cases. This is despite the fact they have unique insider knowledge and are directly affected by the policies that are enacted. Methods: We analyzed the accounts of a heterogeneous sample of adult sex workers (N = 218) residing in different urban cities in Canada to find out their views on current laws and their recommendations for reform. The interviews were conducted in 2012–2013 prior to the implementation of the 2014 Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act. The paper thus provides an opportunity to compare the changes desired by Canadian sex workers with changes put into law by the Act. Results: Although the interview questions did not directly ask about the current legal system, 121 expressed an opinion. Three main themes emerged from the qualitative analysis: (1) the challenges that criminalization posed to sex workers; (2) the workers’ suggestions for legal reform; and (3) potential issues with legal reform. Conclusions: We discuss the contributions our qualitative findings make to the scholarship on sex work regulation and call for further research that includes sex workers’ voices in decision-making regarding changes to policies affecting their lives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sex Workers’ Rights: Looking toward the Future)
Open AccessArticle
New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective—An Example of a Successful Policy Actor
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci6020046 - 09 May 2017
Cited by 2
Abstract
The New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective (NZPC) is a unique example of a sex workers’ rights organisation which is an important actor in prostitution policy. The NZPC has had a significant impact on prostitution laws, managing to achieve the decriminalisation of sex work in [...] Read more.
The New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective (NZPC) is a unique example of a sex workers’ rights organisation which is an important actor in prostitution policy. The NZPC has had a significant impact on prostitution laws, managing to achieve the decriminalisation of sex work in New Zealand, which distinguishes it from many other studied organisations. Indeed, the literature on sex workers’ rights organisations notes their relative failure in terms of their impact on prostitution law and policy, identifying the following hurdles: the lack of a common identity and solidarity among sex workers, their stigmatisation, problems with organisational leadership and membership, lack of resources and challenging relationships with allies. This article analyses the role of the NZPC in prostitution policy in New Zealand, particularly in the adoption of the decriminalisation model, and examines the key factors for its success in light of the literature on sex workers’ rights organisations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sex Workers’ Rights: Looking toward the Future)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Why Prostitution Policy (Usually) Fails and What to Do about It?
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci6020043 - 28 Apr 2017
Cited by 15
Abstract
This article describes and discusses the results of two comparative studies of prostitution policy in Europe that are complementary in their design and methodology. One is a comparison of 21 countries using a most different systems design; the other an in-depth comparison of [...] Read more.
This article describes and discusses the results of two comparative studies of prostitution policy in Europe that are complementary in their design and methodology. One is a comparison of 21 countries using a most different systems design; the other an in-depth comparison of Austria and The Netherlands, using a most similar systems design. The two studies found a remarkable continuity in the inherent approach to the regulation of prostitution and its effects. Despite differences in political regime, administrative organization, and national cultures, since the middle of the 19th century, the purpose of prostitution policy has been to impose strict controls on sex workers and to a lesser extent their work sites. The effects of this approach have been disappointing: despite rhetorical claims to the contrary the control of sex workers has no discernable effect on the prevalence of prostitution in society. The effects of policies aimed at control are mostly negative in that they corrode the human and labor rights of sex workers. The article discusses several challenges to the regulation of prostitution (such as its deeply moral nature and the lack of precise and reliable data) as well a number of other important outcomes (such as the importance of local policy implementation for the effects of regulation). The article concludes with the empirically substantiated suggestion that a form of collaborative governance in which sex worker advocacy organizations participate in the design and implementation of prostitution policy offers real prospects for an effective and humane prostitution policy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sex Workers’ Rights: Looking toward the Future)
Open AccessArticle
Sex Work and the Politics of Space: Case Studies of Sex Workers in Argentina and Ecuador
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci6020042 - 19 Apr 2017
Cited by 3
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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.

Abstracto:

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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sex Workers’ Rights: Looking toward the Future)
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Open AccessCommunication
A Sex Work Research Symposium: Examining Positionality in Documenting Sex Work and Sex Workers’ Rights
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci6020039 - 05 Apr 2017
Cited by 1
Abstract
Historically, academic literature on sex work has documented the changing debates, policies, and cultural discourse surrounding the sex industry, and their impact on the rights of sex workers worldwide. As sex work scholars look to the future of sex workers’ rights, however, we [...] Read more.
Historically, academic literature on sex work has documented the changing debates, policies, and cultural discourse surrounding the sex industry, and their impact on the rights of sex workers worldwide. As sex work scholars look to the future of sex workers’ rights, however, we are also in a critical moment of self-reflection on how sex work scholarship engages with sex worker communities, produces knowledge surrounding sex work, and represents the lived experiences of sex workers’ rights, organizing, and activism. In this short Communication, proceedings from a recent sex work research symposium entitled, Sexual Economies, Politics, and Positionality in Sex Work Research are presented. Held at the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University, this symposium is a response to the need for sex work researchers, sex workers, and sex worker-led organizations to come together and critically examine the future of research on sex work and the politics of documenting sex workers’ rights. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sex Workers’ Rights: Looking toward the Future)
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