Intuiting illegality in sex work

Authored by: Julie Ham

The Routledge Handbook on Crime and International Migration

Print publication date:  September  2014
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415823944
eBook ISBN: 9780203385562
Adobe ISBN: 9781135924331


 Download Chapter



In the sex work sector, the link between migration and crime is most pronounced in discourses around human trafficking. Human trafficking – that is, the recruitment or transportation of persons through deceptive or coercive means for the purposes of exploitation (UNODC 2004) – is still strongly associated with sex work, despite empirical evidence that trafficking in the sex work sector is not as prevalent as suggested by media or anti-prostitution organizations (e.g. Agustin 2007; GAATW 2007; Jeffreys 2009; Mai 2009; 2012; Segrave, Milivojevic and Pickering 2009; Weitzer 2011). The strong public association between human trafficking and sex work contributes to the aura of illegality that surrounds immigrant or migrant 1 women in sex work. Immigrant or migrant sex workers (or those assumed to be) may often find themselves relegated to one of two simplistic categories in anti-trafficking discourses, representing either the passivity and weakness of racialized sex workers (as trafficking victims) and/or the foreign threat of criminality (as ‘illegal’ migrants engaging in oft-criminalized work).

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.