Sexual Livelihoods

Women and the Arts of Smuggling


Niger-Thomas, Margaret. 2001. “Women and the Arts of Smuggling.” African Studies Review 44 (2): 43-70.

Author: Margaret Niger-Thomas


This article focuses on the activities of women smugglers in Cameroon in the 1990s, the period during which the national currency was devalued. Despite the generally negative connotations of smuggling, it argues that this unorthodox form of trade has had certain positive effects on the lives of individual female entrepreneurs, if not on Cameroonian society in general. Usually marginalized economically, women in Cameroon-including, in many cases, former prostitutes-are able through smuggling to support themselves and their children, make up the deficit in the household budget, and attain a respected status in society. Through their contacts with beach worker assistants and government officials, they also have contributed, for better or worse, to the blurring of lines in Cameroon between the formal and informal economy.

Topics: Economies, Gender, Women, Livelihoods, Sexual Livelihoods, Trafficking Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Cameroon

Year: 2001

Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy


Ehrenreich, Barbara, and Arlie Russell Hochschild. 2002. Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy. New York: Holt Paperbacks.

Authors: Barbara Ehrenreich, Arlie Russell Hochschild


“Important and provocative...There are many tempting reasons to pick up Global Woman.” —The New York Times.

Women are moving around the globe as never before. But for every female executive racking up frequent flier miles, there are multitudes of women whose journeys go unnoticed. Each year, millions leave third world countries to work in the homes, nurseries, and brothels of the first world. This broad-scale transfer of labor results in an odd displacement, in which the female energy that flows to wealthy countries is subtracted from poor ones— easing a “care deficit” in rich countries, while creating one back home.

Confronting a range of topics from the fate of Vietnamese mail-order brides to the importation of Mexican nannies in Los Angeles, Global Woman offers an original look at a world increasingly shaped by mass migration and economic exchange. Collected and with an Introduction by bestselling social critics Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild, this groundbreaking anthology reveals a new era in which the main resource extracted from developing nations is no longer gold or silver, but love. (Amazon)

Topics: Class, Displacement & Migration, Migration, Economies, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Globalization, Livelihoods, Sexual Livelihoods

Year: 2002

Sexuality and Women’s Rights in Armed Conflict in Sri Lanka


Tambiah, Yasmin. 2004. “Sexuality and Women’s Rights in Armed Conflict in Sri Lanka.” Reproductive Health Matters 12 (23): 78–87. doi:10.1016/S0968-8080(04)23121-4.

Author: Yasmin Tambiah


The discourse of human rights in armed conflict situations is well adapted to respond to violence and violation, invoking internationally agreed principles of civil and political rights. However, in areas where the subject or domain of rights discourse is contested or controversial, human rights advocates appear less prepared to promote and defend such rights. Sexuality is one such domain. This paper explores the complex sexual choices women in Sri Lanka have had to negotiate, particularly widows and sex workers, within a context of ethnic conflict, militarisation and war. It argues that sexuality cannot be defined exclusively in terms of violation, even in a context dominated by violence, and that the sexual ordering of society may be subverted in such conditions. Newly widowed women and sex workers have had to negotiate self-determination as well as take responsibility for earning income and heading households, in spite of contrary community pressures. For women, political and economic rights are closely linked with the ability to determine their sexual and reproductive choices. The challenge to women’s and human rights advocates is how to articulate sexual autonomy as a necessary right on a par with others, and strategise to secure this right during armed conflict and postwar reconstruction.

Keywords: sexual rights, human rights, armed conflict, sex workers, widowhood, Sri Lanka

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Gender, Women, Livelihoods, Sexual Livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Sexuality Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Sri Lanka

Year: 2004

"She Drank His Money": Survival Sex and the Problem of Violence in Taverns in Gauteng Province, South Africa


Wojcicki, Janet Maia. 2002. “‘She Drank His Money’: Survival Sex and the Problem of Violence in Taverns in Gauteng Province, South Africa.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 16 (3): 267–93. doi:10.1525/maq.2002.16.3.267.

Author: Janet Maia Wojcicki


This article examines the practice of "survival sex" in the taverns of Soweto and Hammanskraal area, South Africa. Women who engage in survival sex do not self-identify as commercial sex workers, and the community does not identify them as such. Those who structure HIV prevention programs should not confound such women with commercial sex workers, because effective intervention may vary between the two groups. Violence against women who engage in survival sex in taverns is common, as it is argued that, when a woman accepts beer from a man, she is obliged to exchange sex (because she has "drunk his money"). The South African government should prioritize the reduction of violence as a way to reduce HIV transmission, as, in the context of violence, women do not have the option of negotiating safer sex.

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Health, HIV/AIDS, Livelihoods, Sexual Livelihoods, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, SV against Women, Violence Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2002

The Swedish Law That Prohibits the Purchase of A Sexual Service: Best Practices for Prevention of Prostitution and Trafficking in Human Beings


Ekberg, Gunilla. 2004. “The Swedish Law That Prohibits the Purchase of A Sexual Service: Best Practices for Prevention of Prostitution and Trafficking in Human Beings.” Violence Against Women 10 (10): 1187-218.

Author: Gunilla Ekberg


After several years of public debate initiated by the Swedish women’s movement, the Law that Prohibits the Purchase of Sexual Services came into force on January 1, 1999. The Law is the first attempt by a country to address the root cause of prostitution and trafficking in beings: the demand, the men who assume the right to purchase persons for prostitution purposes. This groundbreaking law is a cornerstone of Swedish efforts to create a contemporary, democratic society where women and girls can live lives free of all forms of male violence. In combination with public education, awareness-raising campaigns, and victim support, the Law and other legislation establish a zero tolerance policy for prostitution and trafficking in human beings. When the buyers risk punishment, the number of men who buy prostituted persons decreases, and the local prostitution markets become less lucrative. Traffickers will then choose other and more profitable destinations.

Keywords: prostitution, Swedish law, trafficking in human beings

Topics: Gender, Women, Girls, Gender-Based Violence, Livelihoods, Sexual Livelihoods, Trafficking, Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking Regions: Europe, Nordic states, Northern Europe Countries: Sweden

Year: 2004

Post-War Settlements and the Production of New Illegalities: The Case of Dayton and People Trafficking


Dawson, Andrew. 2008. “Post-War Settlements and the Production of New Illegalities: The Case of Dayton and People Trafficking and Prostitution in Bosnia and Herzegovina.” Dialect Anthropology 32: 123-37.

Author: Andrew Dawson


This article charts the rise of people smuggling, trafficking and prostitution in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina, and also goes on to point to their transformation in the post-post-war era into ‘cottage’ industries. I argue that the conditions of possibility for their existence are rooted in contradictions inherent in the Dayton Peace Agreement that brought to an end the war of Yugoslav succession. In particular, borrowing Auge’s concept of non-places, I argue that village life has been characterised increasingly by the multiplication of human mobility, the emergence of new forms of inter-ethnic clientship and social relations of estrangement, each of which may enable the industries to thrive. Above all, they are likely to render ineffective the Bosnian state’s attempts at incorporating the public, particularly in rural areas, into the surveillance and detection of people smuggling, trafficking and prostitution.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Ethnicity, Livelihoods, Sexual Livelihoods, Post-Conflict, Trafficking, Human Trafficking Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 2008

Traffic in Women in War and Peace: Mapping Experiences in Southeast Europe


Corrin, Chris. 2004. “Traffic in Women in War and Peace: Mapping Experiences in Southeast Europe.” Journal of Contemporary European Studies 12 (2): 177-92.

Author: Chris Corrin


How concerns around prostitution and migration are politically framed  can decide and formulate policy strategies, with neighbouring countries taking radically different approaches to legislation. Traffic in women entails situations of violence and social control, where the lines between migration, human trafficking and smuggling become blurred. This article considers the growth of trafficking in women for prostitution across Central and South Eastern Europe over the last decade in the context of human rights policies. The brief mapping of trafficking in women in southeast Europe (SEE) focuses primarily on Albania and Kosova, to assess the diverse developments and the impact of militarisation, alongside increasing research and policy expansion. Practical changes to legislation with regard to human rights and migration are considered by some feminist analysts to create conditions that will limit the negative impacts of key aspects of women trafficked into prostitution.

Topics: Gender, Women, Livelihoods, Sexual Livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Rights, Human Rights, Trafficking, Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking, Violence Regions: Europe, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Southern Europe

Year: 2004

War in the Blood: Sex, Politics and AIDS in Southeast Asia


Beyrer, Chris. 1998. War in the Blood: Sex, Politics and AIDS in Southeast Asia. London: Zed Books.

Author: Chris Beyrer


This engaging and vivid book investigates the course of the HIV epidemic in seven countries of South East Asia: Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Vietnam and China’s Yunnan Province. Emphasising the impact of the cultural and political landscapes of these countries on the progress of the disease, the book is the product of both working and travelling in the area. Not merely a commentary on obfuscating government statistics, the author draws upon his encounters with people dealing with the effects of the epidemic and opponents of the regimes of the countries he describes. The epidemic is seen as being vitally linked to the general condition of human rights in the societies.

In the first part of the book the author travels to each country in turn chronicling the different approaches adopted to the epidemic. The second part covers issues involving specific groups at risk - among other topics, women and contraception, prostitution and the traffic in women, HIV and the US military, the Heroin trade, gay sex workers, prisoners, and the work of local activists. The third part of the book looks at policy and the general effect of culture on public health care, stressing the need for local empowerment of populations, and in particular women, to effect social changes that would go hand in hand with improvements in the handling of the HIV epidemic. Both passionate and well-informed, this book is a labour of love that discusses the HIV epidemic while giving an intimate, and ultimately celebratory account of South East Asia and asserting the real possiblity for affirmative action. (Amazon)

Topics: Governance, Health, HIV/AIDS, Reproductive Health, Livelihoods, Sexual Livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Rights, Human Rights, Sexuality, Trafficking, Drug Trafficking, Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Cambodia, China, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam

Year: 1998

Operation Princess in Rio de Janeiro: Policing ‘Sex Trafficking’, Strengthening Worker Citizenship, and the Urban Geopolitics of Security in Brazil


Amar, Paul. 2009. “Operation Princess in Rio de Janeiro: Policing ‘Sex Trafficking’, Strengthening Worker Citizenship, and the Urban Geopolitics of Security in Brazil.” Security Dialogue 40 (4-5): 513-41.

Author: Paul Amar


This article develops new insights into the gendered insecurities of the neoliberal state in Latin America by exploring the militarization of public security in Rio de Janeiro during 2003-08 around campaigns to stop the 'trafficking' of sex workers. Findings illuminate the intersection of three neoliberal governance logics: (1) a moralistic humanitarian-rescue agenda promoted by evangelical populists and police groups; (2) a juridical 'law and rights' logic promoted by justice-sector actors and human-rights NGOS; (3) a worker-empowerment logic articulated by the governing Workers' Party (PT) in alliance with social-justice movements, police reformers, and prostitutes' rights groups. Gender and race analyses map the antagonisms between these three logics of neoliberal governance, and how their incommensurabilities generate crisis in the arena of security policy. By exploring Brazil's fraught efforts to attain the status of 'human security superpower' through these interventions, the article challenges the view that the reordering of security politics in the global south is inevitably linked to desecularization, disempowerment, and militarization.

Keywords: security, gender, human trafficking, race, Brazil

Topics: Gender, Women, Governance, Livelihoods, Sexual Livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Race, Security, Human Security, Trafficking, Sex Trafficking Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Brazil

Year: 2009

The Road to Italy: Nigerian Sex Workers at Home and Abroad


Achebe, Nwando. 2004. “The Road to Italy: Nigerian Sex Workers at Home and Abroad.” Journal of Women’s History 15 (4): 178-85.

Author: Nwando Achebe


In an attempt to navigate the contours of the unique Nigerian institution of commercial sex work, Achebe provides two short cases that are various in ethnicity (the Igbo and Edo), locality (rural Nigeria and international prostitution), and in the very way the practitioners define and construct their work. He claims that the realities of Nigerian prostitutes vary considerably depending on geography, ethnicity, and levels of dislocation from community and family.

Topics: Gender, Livelihoods, Sexual Livelihoods, Trafficking, Sex Trafficking Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Nigeria

Year: 2004


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