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. [...]
[...] British policy makes sex workers vulnerable. British Medical Journal Ghys, P. D. (2002). Increase in condom use and decline in HIV and sexually transmitted diseases among female sex workers in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, 1991-1998. AIDS 251-258. Goodyear, M. D. E. (2007). Public health policy must be based on sound evidence, not opinion. British Medical Journal Goodyear, M. D. E. & Cusick, L. (2007). Protection of sex workers: Decriminalization could restore public health priorities and human rights. British Medical Journal 52-53. [...]
[...] There is a generalized misconception of why sex workers enter the industry. Commercial sex work cannot be discussed without considering women's subordinate position in our society, which includes their unequal economic position and their oppression in a male-dominated, patriarchal society. Most women are forced into the sex industry because of “changes in the socioeconomic and political situation in the region that limit women's economic opportunities and increase female poverty” (Oberzaucher, 2006). Many formerly employed women have no choice besides selling sex to support themselves and their families. [...]
[...] Factors associated with HIV-1 infection among sex workers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. AIDS 87-96. Alary, M. et al. (2002). Decline in the prevalence of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases among female sex workers in Cotonou, Benin, 1993-1999. AIDS 463-470. Amir, A. (2005). Violence against sex workers and HIV prevention. Violence against women and HIV/AIDS: Critical Interventions Information Bulletin Series 1-6. Banach, L. & Metzenrath, S. (2000). Principles for model sex industry legislation. Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations CITE Baumgarten, I. [...]
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