Advertisement

Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 74–95 | Cite as

Transitional Housing Facilities for Women Leaving the Sex Industry: Informed by Evidence or Ideology?

  • Susan DeweyEmail author
  • Jennifer Hankel
  • Kyria Brown
Original Paper

Abstract

This article juxtaposes the results of descriptive and inferential statistical analysis, derived from 125 client case files at a Denver transitional housing facility for women leaving the sex industry, with the results of a content analysis that examined how all 34 similar U.S. facilities represent themselves, their clients, and their services on their websites. Content analysis results ascertained four primary findings with respect to transitional housing facilities for women leaving the sex industry, including their conflation of sex trading with sex trafficking, dominance by Christian faith-based organizations, race-neutral approach, and depiction of their clients as uneducated and socially isolated. Yet our statistical analysis revealed that significant differences exist between women’s sex industry experiences in ways that are strongly determined by ethno-racial identity, age, marital status, and exposure to abuse throughout the life course. Juxtaposing the results of these analyses highlights some rather glaring disconnects between the ways that facility websites depict their clients and the meaningful differences between women seeking services at the Denver transitional housing facility. These findings raise significant concerns regarding approaches that ignore ethno-racial differences, collapse the sex industry’s complexity, make assumptions about the women’s educational or other needs, and neglect the importance of women’s community and relational ties. Taken together, these troubling realities suggest a need for evidenced-based, rather than ideology-based, alternatives for women who wish to leave the sex industry.

Keywords

Transitional housing Sex industry Social services Prostitution 

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights

This study did not receive funding, and all procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

References

  1. Abel, G., Fitzgerald, L., Healy, C., & Taylor, A. (2010). Taking the crime out of sex work: New Zealand sex workers’ fight for decriminalization. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  2. Agustín, L. (2007). Sex at the margins: Migration, labour markets, and the sex industry. London: Zed.Google Scholar
  3. Aidala, A., Cross, J., Harre, D., & Sumartojo, E. (2005). Housing status and HIV risk behaviors: Implications for prevention and policy. AIDS and Behavior, 9(3), 251–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bernstein, E. (2007). The sexual politics of the “New Abolitionism”. Differences, 18(3), 128–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bourgois, P., Prince, B., & Moss, A. (2004). The everyday violence of hepatitis C among young women who inject drugs in San Francisco. Human Organization, 63(3), 253–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brewer, D., Dudek, J., Potterat, J., Muth, S., Roberts, J., & Woodhouse, D. (2006). Extent, trends, and perpetrators of prostitution-related homicide in the United States. Journal of Forensic Science, 51, 1101–1108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bumiller, K. (2008). In an abusive state: How neoliberalism appropriated the feminist movement against sexual violence. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Caputo, G. (2008). Out in the storm: Drug-addicted women living as shoplifters and sex workers. Boston: Northeastern University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Census Bureau. (2010). The Black population: 2010. http://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2011/dec/c2010br-06.pdf. Accessed February 23, 2016.
  10. Clarke, R., Clarke, E., Roe-Sepowitz, D., & Fey, R. (2012). Age of entry into prostitution: Relationship to drug use, race, suicide, education level, childhood abuse, and family experience. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 22, 270–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Comte, J. (2014). Decriminalization of sex work: Feminist discourses in light of research. Sexuality and Culture, 18, 196–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Crago, A. (2008). Our lives matter: Sex workers unite for health and human rights. New York: Open Society Institute.Google Scholar
  13. Crenshaw, K. (1991). Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. Stanford Law Review, 43(6), 1241–1299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Csete, J., & Cohen, J. (2010). Health benefits of legal services for criminalized populations: The case of people who use drugs, sex workers and sexual and gender minorities. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 38(4), 816–831.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cusick, L. (2006). Widening the harm reduction agenda: From drug use to sex work. International Journal of Drug Policy, 17, 3–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cusick, L., & Hickman, M. (2005). “Trapping” in drug use and sex work careers. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 12, 369–379.Google Scholar
  17. Dalla, R. (2006). “You can’t hustle all your life”: An exploratory investigation of the exit process among street-level prostituted women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 30, 276–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dewey, S. (2017). Women of the street: How the criminal justice-social services alliance fails women in prostitution. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Duff, P., Deering, K., Tyndall, M., Gibson, K., & Shannon, K. (2011). Homelessness among a cohort of women in street-based sex work: The need for safer environment interventions. BMC Public Health, 11, 643–650.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dworkin, A. (1993). Prostitution and male supremacy. Michigan Journal of Gender & Law, 1, 1–12.Google Scholar
  21. Edwards, J., Halpern, C., & Wechsberg, W. (2006). Correlates of exchanging sex for drugs or money among women who use crack cocaine. AIDS Education and Prevention, 18(5), 420–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Farley, M. (2004). “Bad for the body, bad for the heart”: Prostitution harms women even if legalized or decriminalized. Violence Against Women, 10(10), 1087–1125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2013). Crime in the United States. https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/tables/table-43. Accessed February 23, 2016.
  24. Golder, S., & Logan, T. (2007). Correlates and predictors of women’s sex trading over time among a sample of out-of-treatment drug abusers. AIDS and Behavior, 11, 628–640.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Haaken, J., & Yragui, N. (2003). Going underground: Conflicting perspectives on domestic violence shelter practices. Feminism & Psychology, 13, 49–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jasinski, J., Wesely, J., Wright, J., & Mustaine, E. (2010). Hard lives, mean streets: Violence in the lives of homeless women. Chicago: Northeastern University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Krüsi, A., Chettiar, J., Ridgway, A., Abbott, J., Strathdee, S., & Shannon, K. (2012). Negotiating safety and sexual risk reduction with clients in unsanctioned safer indoor sex work environments: A qualitative study. American Journal of Public Health, 102(6), 1154–1159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kurtz, S., Surratt, H., Kiley, M., & Inciardi, J. (2005). Barriers to health and social services for street- based sex workers. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 16(2), 345–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lazarus, L., Chettiar, J., Deering, K., Nabess, R., & Shannon, K. (2011). Risky health environments: Women sex workers’ struggles to find safe, secure and non-exploitative housing in Canada’s poorest postal code. Social Science and Medicine, 73, 1600–1607.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Leigh, C. (1997). Inventing sex work. In J. Nagle (Ed.), Whores and other feminists (pp. 225–231). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. Lopez-Embury, S., & Sanders, T. (2009). Sex workers, labour rights, and unionization. In T. Sanders, M. O’Neill, & J. Pitcher (Eds.), Prostitution: Sex work, policy and politics (pp. 94–110). London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. MacKinnon, C. (2007). Are women human? And other international dialogues. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Majic, S. (2013). Sex work politics: From protest to service provision. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  34. Miller, M., & Neaigus, A. (2002). An economy of risk: Resource acquisition strategies of inner city women who use drugs. International Journal of Drug Policy, 13, 409–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Oselin, S., & Weitzer, R. (2013). Organizations working on behalf of prostitutes: An analysis of goals, practices, and strategies. Sexualities, 16(3–4), 445–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Quinet, K. (2011). Prostitutes as victims of serial homicide: Trends and case characteristics, 1970-2009. Homicide Studies, 15, 74–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Raphael, J., & Shapiro, D. (2004). Violence in indoor and outdoor prostitution venues. Violence Against Women, 10, 126–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Rekart, M. (2005). Sex-work harm reduction. Lancet, 366(9503), 2123–2134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rhodes, T. (2002). The “risk environment”: A framework for understanding and reducing drug-related harm. International Journal of Drug Policy, 20, 193–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rhodes, T., Wagner, K., Strathdee, S., Shannon, K., Davidson, P., & Bourgois, P. (2012). Structural violence and structural vulnerability within the risk environment: Theoretical and methodological perspectives for a social epidemiology of HIV risk among injection drug users and sex workers. In P. O’Campo & J. Dunn (Eds.), Rethinking social epidemiology: Towards a science of change (pp. 205–230). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Richie, B. (2000). A Black feminist reflection on the anti-violence movement. Signs, 25, 1133–1137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Romero-Daza, N. (2003). “Nobody gives a damn if I live or die:” Violence, drugs and street-level prostitution in inner city Hartford, Connecticut. Medical Anthropology, 22, 233–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Salfati, C., James, A., & Ferguson, L. (2008). Prostitute homicides: A descriptive study. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 23, 505–543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sallmann, J. (2010). “Going hand-in-hand”: Connections between women’s prostitution and substance use. Journal Of Social Work Practice In The Addictions, 10(2), 115–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Semple, S., Strathdee, S., Zians, J., & Patterson, T. (2011). Correlates of trading sex for methamphetamine in a sample of HIV-negative heterosexual methamphetamine users. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 43(2), 79–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sered, S., & Norton-Hawk, M. (2008). Disrupted lives, fragmented care: Illness experiences of criminalized women. Women and Health, 48(1), 43–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sered, S., & Norton-Hawk, M. (2013). Criminalized women and the health care system: The case for continuity of services. Journal of Correctional Health Care, 19(3), 164–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Singer, M. (1996). A dose of drugs, a touch of violence, a case of AIDS: Conceptualizing the SAVA syndemic. Free Inquiry in Creative Sociology, 24(2), 99–110.Google Scholar
  49. Singer, M. (2006). A dose of drugs, a touch of violence, a case of AIDS, Part 2: Further conceptualizing the SAVA syndemic. Free Inquiry in Creative Sociology, 34(1), 39–51.Google Scholar
  50. Thukral, J., & Ditmore, M. (2003). Revolving door: An analysis of street-based prostitution in New York City. New York: Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center.Google Scholar
  51. Weitzer, R. (2010). The mythology of prostitution: Advocacy research and public policy. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 7, 15–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wies, J. (2008). Professionalizing human services: A case of domestic violence shelter advocates. Human Organization, 67(2), 221–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WyomingLaramieUSA
  2. 2.DenverUSA

Personalised recommendations