SWEAT Shorts

Thursday, August 10, 2006

SWEAT in Vegas

Wow, has it really been this long since the last post? I do apologize and promise you that the delay does not mean we have not been busy.

The beginning of July found Ginger and Alix in Las Vegas, Nevada for the Re-visioning Prostitution Policy Conference. To find out more about the conference, go here: Conference Info

At the conference, Alix gave the presentation "The SWEAT Project: Female Sex Workers’ perspectives on systems of criminalization, decriminalization, and legalization." Does anyone reading this know how to post a power point presentation to a blog? If so, let me know, as i would love to share the presentation with you. In the mean time, if you would like a copy of the presentation, send me your e-mail address and i will forward it to you. As a sneak preview, here is the abstract for the presentation:

This presentation will focus on the findings from the first phase of the SWEAT (Sex Worker Environmental Assessment Team) research project conducted by UCSF in conjunction with SJI. In this first phase we conducted 60 one-on-one, semi-structured interviews with current sex workers of all genders (female = 40; men = 10; TG = 10). For the purpose of this presentation, I will explore the female participants' reflections on what they would like to see changed, if anything, with the current policy of criminalization. 30 of the women shared their perspectives on this topic. Of these 30 women, 2 shared the benefits that accompany decriminalization and criminalization, 2 shared the benefits of criminalization and some other type of system, 34 responses were given. 14 wanted some change but did not specify a preference for decriminalization or legalization, 8 advocated for decriminalization, and 2 spoke to their desire to see sex work legalized. Interestingly, 10 (33.33%) of the women preferred that sex work remain criminalized. I will explore the reasons that influence the women's responses and discuss the ways in which this information can inform decriminalization efforts.

We at SWEAT were grateful to have the opportunity to share this important information with the conference attendees and you.


At 2:53 PM, Blogger FrenchKiss said...

I am surprised and somewhat saddened that roughly a third who responded wanted prostitution to remain criminalized. Do you know why that is, or is that something you plan to ask the next time? Is it possible that some of these women were not really sex workers? The conference was fairly widely publicized and there are some hard-core abolitionists who receive a lot of federal, state and private funding, largely due to the notion that no woman really wants to be a sex worker.

The only reason that I can conceive of (which admittedly, doesn't cover the full scope of personal reasons others may have) is that they are concerned about attracting more competition. I can't imagine any sex worker would want to be arrested or have the demand for her services decline (as is the stated goal of the Swedish model).

I'm not dismissing the feelings of the women who filled out your questionaire; I am just trying to understand the reasons behind their answers.

At 3:47 PM, Blogger Alix Lutnick said...

Thanks for the comment. If you feel comfortable sending me your e-mail address i will send you the power point presentation that includes that quotes that go with the numbers.

In the mean time,the women i spoke with really were sex workers. we did open-ended, semi-structured interviews that lasted approximately one and a half hours.

those who prefer that it remain criminalized gave various reasons as to why. for some they felt it would keep the supply and demand in the worker's favor; that if it were no longer illegal more people would be doing it which would drive costs down. others felt that any system other than criminalization would bring with it heavy regulations such as mandatory sti/hiv testing, registering as a worker, and paying taxes. some women responded that they enjoy doing something that is illegal, they like being "bad girls." one woman we spoke with felt that if it were not illegal, she would be making more money, which means for her she would be using more drugs, and would wind up dead from her drug use. and lastly, one woman addressed the benefits of criminalization in relation to her drug use. for this woman, sex work and using drugs go hand in hand. so when she has been on a drug run for a few days and out on the streets, the police notice that, and by the third or fourth day pick her up for public intoxication. she feels this saves her life as it provides her an indoor, safe space to sober up.

You are absolutely right that no sex worker wants to be arrested or denied services. the individuals we spoke with during the first phase echoed that sentiment. what all the participants spoke to, regardless on their stance about criminalization, were 5 key themes. First, all workers want increased safety. Second, police protection. This means that they want to know if they get hurt while working that the police are there to support them, not further abuse them. Third, the women want improved working conditions, and more work options. For these women, more work options means that they would like to do other types of sex work but as of now don't because they are criminalized. Fourth, they want to see a decrease in the stigma associated with sex work. And that last theme is that they all want financial security.

At 1:43 PM, Blogger FrenchKiss said...

I just sent you an e-mail requesting the ppt files you mentioned and look forward to checking them out.

It sounds like there are some serious concerns that need to be taken into consideration. I will wait until I've seen the files you've mentioned before making further comments, since some of the points I'd like to make may be covered in them.

In the meantime, keep up the good work. And if you ever feel you could use some administrative/secretarial assistance, I'd be happy to help out (I was an office lackey for five years before I got into sex work) and I'm just a couple of blocks from the N Judah line (if not, it's no big deal).


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