sex work

sex work

The Ramping Up of Anti-Trafficking Rhetoric: A Wrong Turn in Research on Erotic Labour

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This paper examines the shift in emphasis on research into sex work. Recent efforts by the anti-trafficking lobby have been highlighted through the involvement of high profile celebrity advocates describing the horrors of sexual slavery and trafficking. Their involvement has led to legislative changes that cast a wide net around the problem, conflating voluntary sex work with criminal victimization. While not intending to discount the instances of harm brought about by trafficking, I take exception to this shift in perspective, as it has led to a dangerous outcome: the obfuscation of instances where women and men who choose to engage in erotic labour are cast as victims without agency or voice. Using a critical and comparative case study approach, this paper will look at the efforts of sex worker advocates in Halifax, Nova Scotia and the "Sex workers are..." public awareness campaign against this backdrop, and discuss the implications for both research and programming. The conclusion is clear: not all sex workers are trafficked. This shift to a focus on victimization only leads to greater isolation and vulnerability of those engaged in various forms of non-coercive erotic labour. This research has policy, scholarly and programming implications. Dr. Alan D. Brown Mount Saint Vincent University Halifax, NS CANADA