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Laura Agustín on Sex Work Facts v. Fiction

Laura Agustín, author of Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry is seen here discussing sex work in reality and the impact of misconceptions and misinformation on sex workers.  She discusses migrant sex workers, trafficking and the conflicts caused by both.

Laura Agustín writes as a lifelong migrant and sometime worker in both nongovernmental and academic projects about sex, travel and work.  You can contact her here.

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Hay que tener una visión de las cosas: Mujeres brasileiras en la industria del sexo en España

Con todo el debate ideológico sobre la prostitución, salen poco simples testimonios de personas que han decidido viajar y trabajar en la industria del sexo. Cuando digo ‘decidido’ quiero decir que puede que tengan pocas opciones para salir adelante pero sí tienen algunas y pueden preferir unas a otras. Es un planteamiento básico, que no niega el sexismo del mundo ni la injusticia para los países menos ricos sino que destaca la dimensión personal donde el candidato a la migración mira su situación y opta por viajar. Y muy fácilmente sale una historia no solo de ganarse la vida sino una visión empresarial y emprendedora, de personas que calculan sus chances, planifican sus futuros y son todo menos víctimas. Los siguientes relatos vienen de un trabajo de Adriana Piscitelli, de la Universidade do Estado de São Paulo, Brasil. He marcado frases en las que se puede oir la voz de personas que están informándose mediante redes, que están tomando decisiones y que tienen una visión a largo plazo de sus vidas.

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The antithesis of love? Dan Allman reviews Sex at the Margins

Sex at the Margins has now been reviewed 17 times in academic journals! And those journals focus on many different fields: sociology, anthropology, migration, feminism, gender, geography - here’s a full list.  I marvel especially when someone I admire admires my book.  Dan Allman, who wrote M is for mutual, A is for acts, has published a review of Sex at the Margins for the journal Sexualities. To be compared to Clifford Geertz means being understood, and what is better than that? And how about a comparison with Camille Paglia?  Here’s Dan’s review.

Laura María Agustín, Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry. London and New York: Zed Books, 2007.

Some books about prostitution and sex trafficking can make for challenging reading. Not because of the subject matter necessarily, but because of the ways contemporary politics and voice give rise to a kind of morally-charged discourse.

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Migrants, favours, protection, sex: examples from Embracing the Infidel

(Posted at Border Thinking on Migration, Trafficking and Commercial Sex)

In Embracing the Infidel Behzad Yaghmaian narrates his journey to record the stories of migrants trying to find a place to settle in Europe. There are women in the book, but the majority of detailed stories are told by men and boys. Many of the plots are about physical hardships encountered whilst being smuggled across borders: Afghanistan to Iran, Iran to Turkey, Turkey to Greece and Bulgaria, France to England.  Long scenes are set in Istanbul, Sofia, Athens, Paris, Calais. Contradictory, arbitrary, frustrating, paper-oriented refugee policy is arguably the book’s main villain, though the sadism of border guards and swindles by smugglers are more dramatic.  I especially appreciate Yaghmaian’s ability to tell terrible stories without falling into a victimising, maudlin tone (the subject of Forget Victimisation).

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Migrant brothel workers who oppose raids and want to work tell why

(Posted at Border Thinking on Migration, Trafficking and Commercial Sex)

I just gave a talk about irregular migration and informal-sector jobs, including in the sex industry, at a conference in Copenhagen. The talk was well-received, but as always most people say they have not heard my point of view before. So to make sure everyone realises that my ideas are not the result of an ideology about prostitution, I run this photo again of a poster prepared by migrant sex workers (self-identified so) in Chiang Mai, Thailand, at the EMPOWER centre.

See for yourself the list of reasons migrant sex workers at Barn Su Funn Brothel gave for opposing raids and rescue operations intended to liberate them, whether rescuers are police officers, ngo employees or charity workers:

• We lose our savings and our belongings.
• We are locked up.
• We are interrogated by many people.
• They force us to be witnesses.
• We are held until the court case.
• We are held till deportation.
• We are forced re-training.
• We are not given compensation by anybody.
• Our family must borrow money to survive while we wait.
• Our family is in a panic.
• We are anxious for our family.
• Strangers visit our village telling people about us.
• The village and the soldiers cause our family problems.
• Our family has to pay ‘fines’ or bribes to the soldiers.
• We are sent home.
• Military abuses and no work continues at home.
• My family has a debt.
• We must find a way back to Thailand to start again.

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