Will Any Body Really Do? Investigating Skills in Commercial Sex
University of Helsinki, Finland
This paper explores skills in commercial sex, examining the different skill-sets and the process of skill acquisition among Russian-speaking women engaged in commercial sex in Finland. The paper aims to problematize the perception of commercial sex as unskilled or low-skilled labour and to interrogate the hierarchies of skilled and unskilled work more broadly, suggesting that it is the demands of the labour market and the employers that structure the conceptualization of skilled and unskilled labour. The study is based on interviews conducted with Russian-speaking women engaged in different forms of erotic and sexual labour including escorts, erotic dancers, adult film actresses and models, etc. The study also draws on data derived from ethnographic research in private shows, erotic dance clubs and sex restaurants in two large cities in Finland.
Third Parties in Full Service Sex Work in England
University of Leeds, United Kingdom
Although full service sex work is not criminalised in England, third parties such as managers, maids, landlords, and cleaning and security staff are. Additionally, sex worker-led organisations report that legislation criminalising third parties is also used to criminalise sex workers themselves (SWOU, 2013). This second year PhD research aims to map the work relationships between sex workers and their colleagues, managers and other third parties through a mixed methods approach of 150-200 self-completion questionnaires and 20 in-depth semi structured interviews with a wide variety of current sex worker respondents. The research centres the experiences of workers as experts in their own field by developing the research design in cooperation with sex worker-led organisations and sex worker key informants, by foregrounding the analysis of sex workers themselves, and by remaining in constant dialogue with participants throughout the research process.
This presentation will focus on the emerging findings on the effect third parties have on the work and wellbeing of sex workers. While third parties are assumed, both in legislation and in the public imagination (May et al., 2000, Hickle and Roe-Sepowitz, 2016), to be exploiting or controlling sex workers in all cases, sex workers themselves report a variety of experiences with third parties. Additionally, sex workers critically evaluate the ways legislation criminalising third parties affects their safety and wellbeing while simultaneously being highly critical of their work relations within capitalism.
Social Background Indicators Amongst Sex Sellers: An Analysis Using Register Based Data
Using register based data on more than 1000 women involved in indoor prostitution this article analyzes the social background of sex sellers and identifies possible childhood risk factors. The study offers social profiles on female sex sellers focusing on demographics, family background and individual vulnerabilities such as socio-economic status, physical and mental health and substance use.
Knowledge on social background are important on several accounts. Most importantly, existing knowledge on social background of sex sellers is patchy and lack variety in both methodology and target group. Hence, prostitution is often investigated from a street level perspective and more research on other populations (such as indoor sex sellers) is required in order to avoid a “distorted picture of the world of prostitution” (Weitzer, 2005 p. 229). Further previous research is almost exclusively based on self reported questionnaires and/or interviews due to barriers in obtaining other types of meaningful data. This means that despite a wealth of empirical findings and commentary on sex work, many quantitative questions whose answers could complement the qualitative approach remain unanswered. By integrating register based data this study uses a new source of data providing the opportunity to examine social background with a new level of detail including sociodemographic indicators making it possible to investigate a possible correlation between family background/social background and prostitution experience.