Posts tagged ‘migration’
Our media monitoring over the last week or so has picked up a steadily increasing number of news stories in which it is claimed that 40,000 sex workers will descend on South Africa in response to the increased demand for sexual services from football fans enjoying the World Cup. But where does this figure come from and what does it mean for sex work policy?
Matt Greenall has picked up this issue on his blog and, with his permission, I have posted it below.
David Bayever of South Africa’s Central Drug Authority’s announcement that the World Cup in South Africa would lead to 40,000 foreign sex workers being brought to South Africa (“many… from Eastern Europe”) has received blanket coverage in the press (http://tinyurl.com/ygpz8wp; http://tinyurl.com/ya35p3k; http://tinyurl.com/yfwfluh). The only hint of a source for this very high figure is the “event organisers” (in the Telegraph article).
But it looks like this particular figure wasn’t made up on the hoof by anyone in South Africa. Try googling “40,000, world cup, prostitute, germany” and you’ll see that exactly the same figure was being given in the run up to the Germany World Cup in 2006 (http://bit.ly/clc6dN; http://bit.ly/c44hgv; http://bit.ly/aLuhoM), amid accusations that the German government, having legalised prostitution in 2002, was facilitating trafficking and coercion. (more…)
Between August 24th and 26th, 2009, the Latin American Dialogue on Sexuality and Geopolitics took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Organized by Sexuality Policy Watch (SPW) in partnership with the Latin-American Center on Sexuality and Human Rights (CLAM), the meeting gathered close to 50 participants from nine countries — academics, researchers and activists — who debated the conditions of sexual politics in the region.
The session Sexuality and Economics: visibilities and invisibilities featured:
- Lucila Esquivel, coordinator of the Paraguayan Association of Sex Workers
- Ofélia Becerril, professor at the Colégio de Michoacán, in México;
- Adriana Piscitelli, professor and researcher at the Núcleo de Estudos de gênero PAGU in UNICAMP (Brazil);
- Maria Elvira Benítez, Anthropology PHD student at the Museu Nacional and program assistant at the Centro Latino Americano em Sexualidade e Direitos Humanos (CLAM), in Rio de Janeiro; and
- Bruno Zilli, anthropologist and also researcher at CLAM.
Many of the papers presented in this session focussed on sex work and the online overview of this session is an interesting read. The overview paper for the session, Prostitution as economic activity in urban Brazil, was written by Ana Paula Silva, professor at the Centro Universitário Augusto Motta (UNISUAM), in Rio de Janeiro, and Thaddeus Blanchette, professor at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) e also at UNISUAM. You can read a summary of their presentation and the comments that followed from it on the Sexuality Policy Watch website.
One of the main tasks of PLRI is to improve the evidence base on sex work. We spend a lot of time grappling with existing research to try and understand its validity and the ethics of its manufacture. Understanding research and communicating it honestly and appropriately is not always easy. Sometimes research findings can be misunderstood and sometimes they are wilfully misrepresented to support a normative position.
A lively exchange yesterday on the message boards of the Guardian, a UK newspaper, has brought some of these tensions out into the open. The article that attracted all the interest, The truth of trafficking, was featured in the print edition of the newspaper. Articles on this topic appear in the Guardian on an almost weekly basis stimulated, in part, by proposed law reform that would criminalise the clients of sex workers who are ‘controlled for another person’s gain’.
It is not unusual for online media coverage of sex work related issues to set the message boards alight. Often they attract a strange breed of commentator. It is not unusual to find legitimate comment crowded out by remarks that are irrelevant, ill informed and at worst abusive.
What is striking about the interventions made by readers in response to this article – beyond how relevant and well argued their points are – is how they centre on the use/misuse of evidence. Specifically the assertion made by the author that, ‘In Britain, it is estimated that 80% of the 80,000 women in prostitution are foreign nationals, most of whom have been trafficked.’ (more…)
A recent article on Health24.com deals with decriminalising sex work in South Africa and how it relates to public health.
Some of the arguments contained in the article relate to a policy brief ‘Sex work, HIV/AIDS and the socio-legal context in South Africa’, prepared by Marlise Richter, commissioned by the Reproductive Health & HIV Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand in October 2008.
The article states:
A recent study conducted in Cape Town found approximately 1 500 sex workers, according to Jankelowitz. “In the 1990’s it was estimated that there were 10 000 sex workers in Johannesburg, but it is unclear where this estimation comes from.”
The lack of reliable figures seems to be typical of a wider lack of engagement with the issue of sex work among policy-makers and researchers. Apart from some non-government organisations and research units there is still very little being done – both in terms of research and health interventions tailored to the needs of sex workers.
The issue of the decriminalisation of sex work for the 2010 Fifa World Cup has grabbed the headlines, not always for positive reasons. Some have argued that it would lead to an increase in human trafficking. These fears were also expressed in the lead up to the World Cup in Germany although there is research from the International Organisation for Migration commissioned by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) to show that this was not the case.
It appears policy reforms towards decriminalisation in South Africa have stalled due to bureaucratic red-tape.
A seminar at the Institute of Development Studies on the 5 December will introduce the PLRI and feature speakers on gender, sexuality, migration and trafficking.
This will be followed by a showing of Caught Between the Tiger and the Crocodile, produced by Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW). In Cambodia, the 100% Condom Use Policy – created to “protect” sex workers and curb HIV/AIDS – is reportedly being used by local police as an instrument to harass, persecute, and criminalize sex workers. The film tells the stories of women that have been arrested for carrying condoms, which are then used as evidence of sex work (illegal after new anti-trafficking laws were introduced earlier this year).
Once arrested, these women are sent to “rehabilitation centers” – facilities advertised as job-training centers by the government, but denounced by local groups as inhumane prisons.
There has been a great deal of media interest in sex work, immigration and trafficking in the UK in the light of UK Government proposals that paying for sex with those ‘controlled for another person’s gain’ be a criminal offence.
Laura Agustín was featured in the UK newspaper the Guardian. In an article ‘The shadowy world of sex accross borders: The government’s latest proposals for sex workers so little to tackle the problem of human trafficking’ she makes the point that;
If, as many Guardian commentators declare, you believe a British woman may prefer selling sex to her other options, then you must allow that possibility to people of other nationalities, whether they are living outside their birth countries or not. Anything else is colonialism. It’s similarly patronising to declare that they were always forced to migrate, as though they had no will, preference or ability to plan a new life.
Laura has an excellent blog ‘Border Thinking on Migration and Trafficking: Culture, Economy and Sex’ where she writes as a lifelong migrant and sometime worker in both nongovernmental and academic projects about sex, travel and work.