• Dr Joanna Busza’s work in Zimbabwe resulted in a very short commentary in Journal of International AIDS Society –here’s the link (and it’s open access): It’s an example of how one legal case and the surrounding publicity actually reduced police discrimination.
  • Dr Erin Sanders-Mcdonagh Women and Sex Tourism Landscapes presents ten years of ethnographic research on female tourists’ interactions with highly sexualized spaces and places in these two very different national contexts, and argues that the visual consumption of sexual spectacle by female tourists requires a new conceptualisation of the what constitutes sex tourism.  This text explores the ways in which these sexualized spaces are presented and constructed, and examines the different relations that govern the management of, and female tourist interactions with these liminal, eroticised zones. Data collected in both countries suggests that far from being male-centred spaces, the red light districts and associated sexual entertainment venues are very much open to female tourists, and argues that the nature of these particular spaces and places as authentic tourist sites/sights invites women to consume sexual entertainment in ways that are normally ‘off-limits’ to women in other national settings. The author argues that many women tourists in Thailand and there Netherlands are not only interested in exploring sexualized zones, but do so in surprisingly large numbers, challenging many existing assumptions about women’s involvements with sexual space and their attendant sexual agency. Thinking specifically about the visual nature of women’s sexualized experiences, the analysis draws on a range of different theoretical understandings that address power, privilege, and the gaze. The book ultimately concludes that the stigmatisation of sex work is highly problematic as it allows female sex workers to be read in reductive ways by female consumers, and argues for the decriminalization of sex work as a way to decrease the stigma association with all forms of sexual entertainment. An important contribution to a range of debates, this book will appeal to students and researchers in tourism, geography, sociology, gender studies and cultural theory.
  • Angelika Strohmayer, Dr. Mary Laing, and Rob Comber and is titled: Technologies and Social Justice Outcomes in Sex Work Charities: Fighting Stigma, Saving Lives   See the accompanying conference presentation at CHI’17 (Conference of Human Factors in Computing Systems).
  • Kate ListerThe pen is mightier than the whore: Victorian newspapers and the sex-work saviour complex.” The title of the book is The Routledge Companion to Media, Sex and Sexuality.
  • Heidi Hoefinger and Srorn Srun (2017) “At-Risk” or “Socially Deviant”?  Conflicting Narratives and Grassroots Organizing of Sex/Entertainment Workers and LGBT Communities in Cambodia, Social Sciences, Special Issue: Sex Workers’ Rights: Looking Toward the Future,  6(3), 93; doi:10.3390/socsci6030093

Conference Presentations

♦Feminist Emergency conference at Birkbeck 22-24th June 2017  the organisers invited a panel on Sex Work as follows:

This panel reviews the 2017 Home Affairs Select Committee report into Prostitution and the government response to it, from the perspective of those involved or interested in the industry. Voice will be given to critical reflection on the interrelations of race and feminist concerns with sexual labour, as well as evaluating the type of work that sex work might be, and the relationship between feminisms and activisms, in the service of social justice for sex workers. Chaired by Julia Laite (Birkbeck)  and organised by Katherine Angel (Birkbeck)  there were three panel speakers, Laura Watson (English Collective of Prostitutes), Angela Dimitrakaki (Edinburgh College of Art) and Maggie O’Neill (University of York). Laura in turn invited the fabulous Empower collective from Thailand

to join the session with a performative feminist ‘intervention.’  Wearing doctor’s coats and stethoscopes the collective dealt with the feminist emergency by handing out information and support  and care to the audience. The presentations and discussions highlighted various feminist readings  and representations of sex work, activist, academic and practical/material  with a clear focus on social justice, citizenship, status recognition and the decriminalisation of sex work.

♦Heidi Hoefinger and Nicola Mai (2017) Sex work, migration and trafficking in NYC– Preliminary findings from the Sexual Humanitarianism study, Society for the Study of Social Problems 67th Annual Conference (panel: Challenging and Resisting Neo/Liberalism in Sexualities Activism and Research); August, Montreal, Canada

♦Several members of the SWRH presented at the annual British Society Criminology conference in Sheffield early July. The following papers got some interesting feedback and much support:

  • Peer Talk: Hidden Stories-A Participatory Research project with Women Who Sell of Swap Sex in Teesside. Maggie O’Neill, Alison Jobe, Kelly Stockdale and community co-researchers
  • Following the Money: the differential economics of on street and off street sex work.
  • Alison Jobe, Maggie O’Neill, Kelly Stockdale and community co-researchers
  • Lucy Neville (Middlesex University) and Erin Sanders-McDougal (Kent University) Gentrification and the Criminalization of Sex Work: Exploring the Sanitization of Sex Work in Kings Cross with the sue of ASBOs and CBOs
  • Commercial Sex in the Digital Age: Crimes;Safety & Strategy
  • Teela Sanders*, Jane Scoular**, Rosie Campbell*, Jane Pitcher**, Stewart Cunningham** (*University of Leicester, ** University of Strathclyde) and community co-researchers

♦We are keen to have the SWRH represented at the 2018 conference in Birmingham City University 3-6th July. Contact with Prof. Teela Sanders for details.

♦SEX, WORK, LAW AND SOCIETY UPDATE …report from Mexico June 2017
The Sex, Work, Law and Society Collaborative Research Network (CRN #6) held its inaugural sessions at the annual Law and Society Conference in Mexico City June 20-23rd 2017. CRN #6 was the brainchild of Menaka Raguparan, a PhD Candidate at Carlton University in Ottawa. Coordinators include: Prof. Chris Bruckert University of Ottawa, Raven Bowen PhD Candidate, University of York UK; and Dr. Tuulia Law Sessional Assistant Professor, York University, Toronto, and joining us this year, Dr. Tamara O’Doherty Lecturer, SFU, Vancouver.

The June conference comprised seven sessions, with sex work researchers from around the world presenting on migration, trafficking, regulation, the experiences of third parties, tropes, and the political economy. In additional to the enlightening presentations, we hosted a dinner with special guests representing Casa Xochiquetzal, a home for active and former elderly sex workers. With the generous donations from CRN attendees, we contributed 14,516.91 pesos to support the work of this tenacious sex worker organization. Please view the event Storify for pictures and conference tweets.

Upcoming Events and Conferences

  • The North East Sex Work Forum will be hosting this year’s Regional Learning Day on 16 November at Middlesbrough Football Ground. There will be the usual range of speakers, stalls and workshops. For more information contact Gaynor Trueman on:
  • CALL FOR ABSTRACTS – LSA Annual Conference will be held in Toronto, Canada, June 7-10th 2018
    The theme of the 2018 meeting is Law at the Crossroads/ Le droit à la croisée des chemins. As such, we interpret the meeting theme as an opportunity to explore issues such as: law as both a tool of oppression and as a tool to challenge oppression and how sex workers and allies navigate this field; the growth of critical legal studies and the resulting recognition of law as inherently political rather than a neutral abstract notion of justice; the rise of nationalist and populist powers and their effects on marginalized groups, including but not limited to sex workers, who have seen their human rights gains rolled back or threatened; the limitations of law where public opinion or political will is resistant to reform or supportive of harmful laws; the use of evidence in law and the challenges that arise with increased use of social science evidence and experts in courts; the politicized, rather than empirical, basis for law and the resulting quandary for the sex workers’ rights movement in seeking labour and human rights through legal mechanisms; the ethics of engagement with law, a primary tool and feature of colonization, where decolonization and Indigenization are goals; the recognition of the violence of law, or the limitations/failures of legal institutions and the need for fundamental institutional change; new directions for sex workers, allies and the movement, given the current legal and political landscape.   We have extended the deadline for Abstracts to CRN #6 for the Law and Society Annual Meeting in Toronto, June 7-10th 2018.  Please Submit a 200-250 word Abstract byTHURSDAY OCTOBER 12TH 2017 5PM PST OR 10PM BST  using this link
    and indicate your affiliation as CRN #6.
    All proposals for paper presentations, panel (salon) sessions, round table discussions and Author meets Reader sessions will be accepted through LSA’s automated submission system. You can find more details about the automated submission system here you are already planning a LSA session with at least four panelists (and papers) that you would like to see included in the Sex, Work, Law and Society CRN 6, please contact Menaka at
  • BtG Beyond the gaze Launch conference 23rd January 2018 Manchester A one day conference event to launch findings of the Beyond the Gaze (BtG) research project, the largest study to date of UK internet based sex work in the UK. Participants will hear from a wide range of expert speakers from: academia, sex work community, policy, health and social care practice, take part in workshops linked to the research findings and have the opportunity to hear about several new resources based on Beyond the Gaze. Follow this LINK for tickets.
  • Postgraduate Sex Work Conference  March 26th 2018, University of Northumbria, Newcastle. Organised by Dr. Mary Laing and colleagues.  Watch this space for call for abstracts!
  • Sex work and the ARTS!
    We have just announced the tour of Sex Worker’s Opera  going to Cambridge. Weston-Super-Mare, Sheffield and London! We are so excited to bring the show to different audiences outside of London and connect with people. We are going to be giving creative workshops to sex workers in the local areas and advocacy/101 worjshops to groups of potential allies – LGBTQIA+ groups, Feminist groups, migrant women’s groups, human rights organisations and universities.
    If any groups in Cambridge, Sheffield, Weston-super-Mare would like a workshop please get in touch to or
    Press Release
    Press Pack

Launch of the Teesside  Peer Talk:hidden stories Research project, June 2017
Almost one year after submitting the report, Peer Talk: hidden stories [funded by Northern Rock and managed by A Way Out in Stockton] was launched in the North East. Durham University researchers  (Maggie O’Neill and Alison Jobe) were commissioned to undertake oversight of the research, train the community /peer researchers, design the research and research tools, gain ethical approval and lead the analysis and write up of the report in collaboration with the research team. The research team included Colleen Bilton, Kelly Stockdale, Hannah, Cath and community co-researchers who did not want to be named. The research complements participatory research undertaken by Changing Lives and Mary Laing and Adele Irving at Northumbria University in Tyne and Wear, also funded by Northern Rock.

Peer Talk: hidden stories sought to provide an evidence base to inform service provision, knowledge, policy and practice in Teesside and specifically to:

  • Document the lived experience and needs of women selling sex both on and off street, including their use and experience of services;
  • Document the experience of key stakeholders providing services to women selling sex both on and off street;
  • Document the key issues highlighted by both sex workers and stakeholders;
  • Produce targeted information for local service providers, policy-makers and key regulators in the region;
  • Contribute to research, academic and policy debates in the North East region and also nationally;
  • Use a participatory peer driven methodology to undertake the research and build research capacity.

What We Did
Community co-researchers interviewed women selling sex about their experiences, needs and support, and the key issues affecting them. The researchers were instrumental in producing research to help us to better understand the lives and needs of women and to further develop services to support women in Teesside.
The community co-researchers undertook 9 interviews with escorts selling sex from flats and on-line; 17 interviews with women who were, or who had recently worked selling sex on street; and 21 interviews with stakeholders.

How We Did It
The research was conducted using participatory action research methods. The community co-researchers were trained in participatory methods, designed the research and research tools in collaboration with the University research team, A Way Out and Barnardos SECOS project staff and volunteers. Twelve people completed this training: five current or former sex workers, five project workers and two A Way Out volunteers.  The community co-researchers were supported in the process by research buddies. They conducted the interviews together. Research buddies were project staff or volunteers who also undertook the participatory action research training.
Get in touch with Maggie or Alison Jobe if you would like a pdf copy of the report whilst the project web site is being updated.

  • East london logo  East London Project update: the qualitative study is underway. The East London Project is a new participatory research project to see how removing police enforcement against sex work could affect sex workers’ safety, health and access to services in East London. We will use the results to advocate for evidence-based policy and practice to protect the safety, health and rights of sex workers in the UK and internationally. We’re a multidisciplinary team of health and social scientists, sex worker rights activists and practitioners, based at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), University of York, University of Bristol, Imperial College London and Homerton University Hospital. Our key partners are Open Doors and National Ugly Mugs, and some of our co-researchers are SWARM members. The project is led by Dr Lucy Platt and co-led by Pippa Grenfell.
    The project involves carrying out neighbourhood walks and interviews, and a two-part survey, with sex workers working in Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets. We are also interviewing other adults who work in the sex industry (e.g. maids, receptionists, security) and people who work with or make decisions that affect sex workers locally. We will use these results, together with routine data on the total number of arrests of sex workers and clients in the boroughs, to develop a computer model – designed to resemble the “real-world” using mathematical equations – to predict how removing enforcement could affect sex workers’ health, safety and access to services over time.
    Since August we’ve been accompanying Open Doors on outreach, attending clinics and drop-ins, and getting in touch with people online, which have been great ways to meet people working in the boroughs. We’ve started interviewing but we’re still looking for more people to take part, so please do get in touch if you or someone you know is interested in participating. We’re interviewing people who sell sex in Hackney, Newham or Tower Hamlets (now or in the past year) – any sector (direct services), 18+, all genders. Contact Pippa on 07948 906026; email: We’re also about to start recruiting a team of freelance co-researchers for the surveys (October/November 2017 – July 2019), so if you have experience and/or knowledge of sex work in East London and are interested in getting involved, please get in touch. Contact Jocelyn on 0207 612 7824; email: To find out more about the project check out our website: Follow us and tweet us @EastLndProject.
  • STudent sex logo   News from Wales
    We have been out the summer spreading the word about the harms associated with stigmatising student sex work  We were delighted to be asked by PXL University College, Hasselt, Belgium to deliver an all-day seminar on the Student Sex Work Project on June the 1st 2017. There were a series of presentations by Debbie, Tracey, Sam and Marije and an evening screening of Fog of Sex with a Q&A with Professor Chris Morris, Falmouth University and Debbie, Tracey and Sam.Tracey n DebbOn the 3rd of July Tracey and Debbie presented to health care professionals at the annual (sunny) Student Health Association conference at Loughborough University.And following on with the European theme, Debbie, Tracey, Sam and Jordan presented a special session on Student Sex Work on the 12th of July at the XXXVth International Congress on Law and Mental Health Prague.

Project news
We have just embarked on a small project with Public Health Wales which seeks to reanalyse the Student Sex Survey to look at student attitudes to sex work and we are also working with them on the development of a training package which looks to educate professionals about the harms associated with the stigmatising of sex work.  We are hoping that sex workers will want to get involved in this project with us so that the messages they want to get out to professionals can be embedded into training. So, if you would like to know more please email Debbie

Debb andThat’s all from us for now!

Debbie Jones, Tracey Sagar, Jordan Dawson, Marije Van Stempvoort and Sam Geuens PXL University College (I know he isn’t strictly one of the Welsh gang )


Please regularly check this blog for up-to-date news and items

Finally, to welcome new Board Members of the SWRH:

  • Dr Kate Lister
  • Dr Belinda Brooks Gordon
  • Professor Jane Scoular

    These fine academics join the existing team of Professor Nick Mai, Professor Tracy Sagar, Debbie Jones, Dr Mary Laing, Dr Nicky Smith; Co-chairs Dr Rosie Campbell, Professor Maggie O’Neill and Professor Teela Sanders; and Administrator Raven 
    (The Rook) Bowen. 


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