Laura Agustín's picture

Exiting in the opposite direction: from maids to sex workers in Ethiopia

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

Pious commentary on prostitution often revolves around the concept of Exit Strategies: getting out of the sex industry.  Everyone agrees that anyone who doesn’t want to sell sex shouldn’tfeel forced to and should be helped to get out.  Quite right.  And what about people who’d like exit strategies to get out of other unpleasing jobs?  Many assume that prostitution is particularly difficult to get out of, especially ensnaring and fraught with obstacles, even when there are no exploiters stopping people from changing occupations (pimps or traffickers).  Obviously when people are too poor, not only in terms of money but also in terms of social capital - contacts, information, resources, ideas - it is misleading to talk about ‘choice’, as though a lot of easy alternatives were lying about. I usually talk about preference, instead: the fact that those with limited options nevertheless can prefer one to another.

Laura Agustín's picture

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).

Laura Agustín's picture

Massage Parlours and Saunas in the daylight

The terms massage parlour and sauna cover many sorts of businesses, some of which are brothels where the massage is probably not skilled or healthful, others of which employ people skilled in massage who also offer services variously known as full-body massage, body rubs and happy endings and some of which offer nothing sexual at all.

Non-sexual massage businesses are granted licences in many cities. Inspections to make sure all these places are always sex-free would be an overwhelmingly expensive task for city councils, with the result that even some licenced places become known for providing sex for money.

Many such businessplaces are located in ordinary commercial strips but appear rather blank, since no goods are displayed in the windows. There is a lot of variation if you look closely, however, so here are some more photos of the sex industry as part of everyday life.

A growing collection can be viewed here, without being a member of facebook.

Daye Town (Huangshi CIty, Hubei, China

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