In this paper, the aim is to present an historical analysis to account for the association between prostitution, disease, and victimization. It also seeks to examine how stigmatization and rejection are currently focused on the immigrant sex worker.
The analysis is based on historical data about regulations in Portugal, in a recent ethnography carried out with street prostitutes and in a current study on immigrant sex workers and health care.
Sex workers have been recognized as a group “at risk” both because they are associated with sexually transmitted diseases and because they are acknowledged as victims of traffic and sexual exploitation. This label “group at risk” justifies some state policies often expressed in sanitary and social control measures, as regulations. Because migrant sex workers are simultaneously immigrants and sex workers they are perceived as a threat to social order and a sign of moral disorder and, so, they experience processes of rejection and stigmatization more significantly than local sex workers.
The knowledge of the negative consequences experienced by migrant sex workers implies an effort to produce changes in the policies and practices towards them. All those involved in research or intervention with migrant sex workers have the responsibility to be aware of the discrimination, violence, and control they are subjected to and must be committed enough to challenge them. This paper can be a contribution to that.
Oliveira, A. (2012), "Social control of immigrant sex workers: transforming a group recognized as “at risk” into a group viewed as “a risk”", International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 32-41. https://doi.org/10.1108/17479891211231392Download as .RIS
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