Essays that provide an on-the-ground understanding of people whose lives are impacted by sex work

Challenging Perspectives on Street-Based Sex Work

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Edited by Katie Hail-Jares, Corey S. Shdaimah, and Chrysanthi S. Leon

"Inclusive representation of voices from within the sex industry is a major challenge which Challenging Perspectives on Street-Based Sex Work has overcome in abundance. Bold, contemporary, and brave in the topics addressed, the editors and contributors help us reflect on the politics, positionality, and polemics deeply embedded in debates around sex work, exploitation, and the liminality of selling sex."
Professor Teela Sanders, University of Leicester, and author of Sex Work: A Risky Business and Paying for Pleasure: Men Who Buy Sex

Are sex workers victims, criminals, or just trying to make a living? Over the last five years, public policy and academic discourse have moved from criminalization of sex workers to victim-based understanding, shaped by human trafficking. While most research focuses on macro-level policies and theories, less is known about the on-the-ground perspectives of people whose lives are impacted by sex work, including attorneys, social workers, police officers, probation officers, and sex workers themselves.

Challenging Perspectives on Street-Based Sex Work brings the voices of lower-echelon sex workers and those individuals charged with policy development and enforcement into conversation with one another. Chapters highlight some of the current approaches to sex work, such as diversion courts, trafficking task forces, law enforcement assisted diversion and decriminalization. It also examines how sex workers navigate seldom-discussed social phenomena like gentrification, pregnancy, imperialism, and being subjects of research. Through dialogue, our authors reveal the complex reality of engaging in and regulating sex work in the United States and through American aid abroad.

Contributors include: Aneesa A. Baboolal, Marie Bailey-Kloch, Mira Baylson, Nachale "Hua" Boonyapisomparn, Belinda Carter, Jennifer Cobbina, Ruby Corado, Eileen Corcoran, Kate D'Adamo, Edith Kinney, Margot Le Neveu, Martin A. Monto, Linda Muraresku, Erin O'Brien, Sharon Oselin, Catherine Paquette, Dan Steele, Chase Strangio, Signy Toquinto, and the editors.



Read the Introduction (pdf).



"During this time of criminal ‘justice’ reform, sex worker advocates need resources that can help identify which suggested strategies are punitive, not just in theory but in practice. Challenging Perspectives on Street-Based Sex Work provides quintessential and concise information, highlighting the competing criminal justice policies, the ideologies behind them, and, crucially, their impact on people who are targeted when they exchange sex."
Carol Leigh, Bay Area Sex Worker Advocacy Network, and inventor of the term "sex work"



Introduction • Corey S. Shdaimah, Katie Hail-Jares, and Chrysanthi S. Leon

Part I On Community
1. Pregnancy Obscured: Street-Based Sex Work and the Experience of Pregnancy • Signy Toquinto
2. "Just to Be There": A Probation Officer's Reflection on Project Dawn Court • Linda Muraresku
3. Meeting the New Neighbors: A Case Study on Gentrification and Sex Work in Washington, D.C. • Katie Hail-Jares, Catherine Paquette, and Margot Le Neveu
4. Holding Their Own: Female Sex Workers' Perceptions of Safety Strategies • Sharon S. Oselin and Jennifer E. Cobbina
5. "HIV Is Not a Major Concern": Trans Identity, Public-Health Funding, and Sex Work • Nachale "Hua" Boonyapisomparn

Part II On Agency
6. The Portrayal of Street-Based Sex Work in
Very Young Girls: How People Get There and Why They Stay • Chrysanthi S. Leon, Corey S. Shdaimah, and Aneesa A. Baboolal
7. Victim or Criminal? Street-Level Prostitutes and the Criminal Justice System • Mira Baylson
8. Policing, Protectionism, and Prevention: Prostitution, Sexual Delinquency, and the Politics of Victimhood in Thai and American Antitrafficking Campaigns • Edith Kinney
9. "Sixteen Going on Twenty-Six": Reflections on End-Demand Legislation and Street-Based Sex Work • Eileen Corcoran

Part III On Research
10. Sex (Work) in the Classroom: How Academia Can Support the Sex Workers' Rights Movement • Kate D'Adamo
11. Objectivity, Activism, and the Challenge of Research on a Highly Polarized and Somewhat Stigmatized Topic • Martin A. Monto
12. Poetry in Street-Based Sex Work • Marie Bailey-Kloch
13. Nothing about Us without Us: The Trans Response to Survival Sex Work • Ruby Corado

Part IV On Policy
14. Listening to Voices of the Exploited: Law Enforcement and Sex Trafficking in the United States • Daniel J. Steele
15. Antiprostitution Agendas and the Creation of U.S. Antitrafficking Policy • Erin O’Brien and Belinda Carpenter
16. Project ROSE: A Case Study on Diversion, Sex Work, and Constitutionality • Chase Strangio
Conclusion • Chrysanthi S. Leon, Corey S. Shdaimah, and Katie Hail-Jares



About the Author(s)

Katie Hail-Jares is a post-doctoral researcher at Griffith Criminology Institute in South East Queensland, and national board member of the Sex Workers' Outreach Project. Her research has appeared in PLOS-ONE, Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependency, Iowa Law Review, and other journals.

Corey S. Shdaimah is Associate Professor and Academic Coordinator of the dual degree MSW/JD program at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. She is the author or co-author of several books, including Change Research: A Case Study of Collaborative Methods for Social Workers and Advocates.

Chrysanthi S. Leon is Associate Professor of Sociology & Criminal Justice, Women & Gender Studies, and Legal Studies at the University of Delaware. She is the author of Sex Fiends, Perverts, and Pedophiles: Understanding Sex Crime Policy in America.


Subject Categories

Law and Criminology
Sexuality Studies/Sexual Identity



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