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A critical study: Sex workers

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Linny Y.
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  1. Introduction.
  2. A general misconception regarding why sex workers enter the industry.
    1. Sex workers and violence.
    2. The clientele.
    3. The amount of alcohol consumed by the clientele.
  3. The second group of people who pose a threat to sex workers.
    1. Pimps and gatekeepers.
    2. Vulnerable financial situations.
  4. The police department.
    1. The stigmatization and discrimination.
    2. Violence from clients and getting arrested.
    3. Extortion and unofficial fines.
    4. Police violence: a moral punishment or a rational transgression.
  5. HIV infection.
    1. Vulnerability.
    2. Factors that put sex workers at risk for infection.
  6. the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS),
    1. Violence as a key determiner of HIV infection.
    2. A more psychological component of violence.
  7. The need for a dramatic shift in government policy.
    1. Criminalization as a deterrent for sex workers from gaining the legal rights to fight back.
  8. Programs that promote safer sex and are willing to take that next step.
  9. One idea for policy reform: the idea of decriminalization of prostitution.
  10. Conclusion.

Tania Nicol. Gemma Adams. Anneli Alderton. Annette Nicholis. Paula Clennell. While these names are probably not familiar to you, they are representative of the problems surrounding the commercial sex industry. They were all victims of a spree of brutal murders that took place in December of 2006 in Ipswich, England. All five young women were sex workers who, like thousands of others, had few options besides prostitution to support themselves and their families. The experiences of these five women represent a global phenomenon of violence and despair in the commercial sex industry and illustrate the grave need for a change in policies surrounding prostitution. I became interested in this topic after I stumbled upon a website which listed the names and ages of prostitutes who had been murdered that year. Scrolling through the hundreds of names, I realized the seriousness of the situation. I, like many others, had bought into the societal discrimination toward sex workers, believing them to be mindless drug addicts or hypersexual homeless women. As I say that, I shudder with disgust at my own blindness. I set out to learn about the subtleties of the sex work industry, how victimized the women involved are, how endangered and frightened sex workers are on a daily basis, and how significantly the stigmatization and discrimination displayed by the rest of society affects the livelihood and health of sex workers. The complexities surrounding sex work are vast. I will attempt to explain the desperation that drives young women to enter the sex work industry and the subsequent consequences, most notably the prevalence of violence and HIV infection.

[...] The center teamed up with the police department, secured a woman police constable who collects information from the sex workers about perpetrators of violence, and was able to arrest a man for physically assaulting a sex worker (Opaneye, 2001). One idea for policy reform that would make the sex work industry significantly safer is the idea of decriminalization of prostitution. An idea proposed by several British researches, the support behind this policy change is staggering because of the refusal of the government to acknowledge the rights of sex workers. [...]


[...] The sex workers in Serbia that participated in the study with Rhodes, Simi, Baro, Platt, & Zikic blatantly admitted that violence was the primary risk concern over sexual health which led to a ?reduced sense of control over the negotiation of sexual transactions? (Rhodes, Simi, Baro, Platt & Zikic, 2008) and a sense of resignation to the perpetrators of violence. A more indirect example of violence preventing HIV programs from working is violence from clients, pimps, and police causing a sense of depression in the sex worker that drives her to drug use. [...]


[...] It was found that not only were the police violent, but ?police violence was identified as a primary concern of sex workers in their descriptions of the risks involved in street based sex work? (Rhodes, Simi, Baro, Platt & Zikic, 2008). These other risks include HIV infection, violence from clients, and simply getting arrested. ?Physical violence by clients was reported to be common, but it was violence by police that was perceived as the greater threat and a less open to risk management? (Rhodes, Simi, Baro, Platt & Zikic, 2008). [...]

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