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Prostitution and trafficking in nine countries: An update on violence and posttraumatic stress disorder

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  • Prostitution Research & Education, San Francisco CA USA
... They also risk being subject to verbal and physical violence and forced to perform unwanted sexualized acts (Bridges et al., 2010;Fritz et al., 2020a;Grudzen et al., 2009;Javanbakht et al., 2017;Shor, 2019). Many women in pornography have experiences in prostitution and other forms of commercial sexualized exploitation (Farley et al., 2003;Grudzen et al., 2009;Javanbakht et al., 2017). In a study among 854 individuals in various forms of prostitution, as many as 49% had been filmed for pornography, and these particular individuals suffered from significantly more severe symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared to those who had not been filmed (Farley et al., 2003). ...
... Many women in pornography have experiences in prostitution and other forms of commercial sexualized exploitation (Farley et al., 2003;Grudzen et al., 2009;Javanbakht et al., 2017). In a study among 854 individuals in various forms of prostitution, as many as 49% had been filmed for pornography, and these particular individuals suffered from significantly more severe symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared to those who had not been filmed (Farley et al., 2003). This suggests that pornography may be a particularly damaging form of prostitution (Tyler, 2015;Waltman, 2014). ...
... The interviews followed a semi-structured interview guide, which was iteratively revised as data collection and analysis progressed. The interview guide elicited a number of topic areas drawn from previous research on commercial sexualized exploitation (Farley et al., 2003;Farley et al., 2011;Grudzen et al., 2009Grudzen et al., , 2011Javanbakht et al., 2017). The interviews began with questions about the participants' current life situation: age, education, work, financial situation, and relationships. ...
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Despite being a global, billion-dollar industry, very little is known about the conditions women face within the pornography industry. The aim of this study was to explore women’s experiences in pornography production, with a particular focus on structural antecedents to entrance, coercion, and violence within the industry, as well as current needs and any barriers to exiting the industry. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with nine women with experiences in pornography production in Sweden. Participants identified young age, financial insecurity, earlier exposure to sexualized violence, and poor mental health as typical antecedents to entering the pornography industry. Once in the industry, women risk manipulation and coercion by pornographers and porn buyers, making it difficult to maintain personal boundaries. Women are regularly harassed by porn buyers who send requests to purchase specific sexualized acts online or offline. The greater a woman’s vulnerability, the more difficult it is to resist pornographer’s and porn buyer’s demands. Experiences in prostitution and other forms of commercial sexualized exploitation are common. A significant barrier to exiting pornography production is the distress of having one’s pornographic images remain online indefinitely. In order to exit the pornography industry and access real alternatives, participants stressed the importance of vocational training, further education and psychosocial support. This study is an important step in elucidating the situation faced by women in pornography production. Further documentation of harms and assessment of needs is warranted for policymaking and the development of effective support services for this vulnerable population.
... CSEC is considered the fastest growing form of international human trafficking, with an estimated 1.8 million children involved, although this number is likely an underestimate due to the secretive nature of the sex trade industry (Macy & Johns, 2011;Kiss et al., 2015;Roby, 2005). CSEC can take multiple forms to include prostitution, massage brothels, strip clubs, sex tourism, and child pornography (Cole et al., 2016;Farley et al., 2003;Flowers, 2001;Roby, 2005). ...
... In addition, many young people are deceived by family, peers, or strangers promising them money, jobs, acting and modeling opportunities, protection from gangs or other violence, assistance in migration, or other opportunities to improve their current life situation (Greenbaum et al., 2015;Poulin, 2003;Roby, 2005). Upon entrance to the sex trade, many victims experience sexual assault, gang rape, physical violence, restriction of food and water, isolation, and psychological abuse (Farley et al., 2003;Flowers, 2001;Greenbaum et al., 2015;Rafferty, 2008). Given these experiences, CSEC is correlated with a range of psychological and medical consequences including high rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, anger, shame, memory loss, and sexually transmitted disease and infection (Greenbaum et al., 2015;Clawson et al., 2008;Zimmerman et al., 2008;Oram et al., 2012;Cohen et al., 2011;Raymond & Hughes, 2001). ...
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Research supports the efficacy of cognitive processing therapy (CPT) for reducing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and comorbid conditions among survivors of sexual assault and other traumas. To date, there are no known studies using CPT with adolescents exposed to commercial sexual exploitation (CSE). The pilot study implemented a modified version of group CPT to determine the preliminary acceptability and feasibility of this intervention with adolescents who experienced CSE. Thirteen participants living in a residential treatment facility in Cambodia received 10 sessions of modified group CPT. Participants were adolescents ranging in age from 14 to 19. Measures of PTSD, depression symptom severity, and suicidal and non-suicidal ideation and behaviors were obtained at baseline, during the intervention, and 1-week and 3 months posttreatment. Group attendance rates and client satisfaction measures of the intervention were obtained. Client satisfaction with the group intervention was high (mean = 27, SD 2.61) and group attendance was good. There was a significant decline in PTSD symptom severity F(7,24) = 2.60, p = .037 and a significant decline in depression symptom severity over time F(7,12) = 9.67, p < .001. There were no occurrences of suicidal or non-suicidal behavior during the study or at follow-up with one participant reporting suicidal ideation after treatment began. The modified CPT intervention appeared to be feasible and received a high acceptability rating.
... For WWUD-SS, economic precarity is common, as is the threat of arrest and incarceration as a result of the criminalization of sex work and controlled substances, particularly in the USA [9][10][11]. These exposures, independently and synergistically, heighten the risk for mental distress, overdose, and HIV acquisition [2][3][4][12][13][14][15]. ...
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Female sex workers (FSW) experience many structural vulnerabilities (SV; e.g., violence, economic insecurity) which contribute to increased risk of HIV and mental distress. However, little research has examined how SV co-occur to shape HIV risk, and none have studied mental distress. Among FSW (n = 385) in Baltimore, Maryland, latent class analysis of five binary indicators (housing insecurity; financial dependence on others; client-perpetrated physical or sexual violence; food insecurity) determined classes of SV and differential HIV risk behavior and mental health outcomes. A 3-class model fit the data best: minimal SV (i.e., low probabilities of all indicators); material needs (i.e., housing, food insecurity); and high SV (i.e., high probability of all indicators). Compared to minimal SV, high SV and material needs had significantly greater adjusted probability of drug injection and poorer adjusted depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and mental distress scores. The high SV class had significantly higher probability of reporting condomless sex with clients compared to material needs and minimal SV. Results show the deleterious effect of co-occurring SV on HIV risk behaviors among FSW with particular emphasis on co-occurring food and housing insecurities. This is the first study of co-occurring SV on mental health outcomes in this key population.
... For WWUD-SS, economic precarity is common, as is the threat of arrest and incarceration as a result of the criminalization of sex work and controlled substances, particularly in the USA [9][10][11]. These exposures, independently and synergistically, heighten the risk for mental distress, overdose, and HIV acquisition [2][3][4][12][13][14][15]. ...
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Background Resilience is a commonly used construct in substance use and mental health research. Yet it is often narrowly defined by only its internal qualities (e.g., adaptability, hardiness) and overlooks its external qualities (e.g., supportive relationships, navigating one’s environment). Further, substance use is often viewed as antithetical to resilience despite populations like women who use drugs and sell sex (WWUD-SS) surviving significant hardships. This study aims to fill a gap in the literature by characterizing external resilience among WWUD-SS and understanding the ways that socio-structural vulnerabilities (e.g., poverty, stigma) and substance use shape external resilience. Methods WWUD-SS ( N = 18) enrolled in an ongoing cohort study were purposively sampled for age, race, and recruitment location and participated in semi-structured, in-depth interviews aimed to elucidate external resilience (i.e., social support and resource utilization). WWUD-SS were queried about recent difficult experiences with a focus on how they did or did not use social support or formal resources (e.g., clinic, crisis hotline) in response. Results Participants were a median age of 37 years, 50% identified as Black, and 50% reported currently injecting drugs. Participants described reluctance to ask for support and often felt resigned to address problems alone. Participants also distinguished between transactional relationships (help is contingent upon receiving something in return) versus genuine (non-transactional or altruistic) support, including the role of family members who do and do not use drugs. Resource utilization was rare, and “self-medication” through substance use was common absent other perceived options for help. Conclusions External resilience appears limited among WWUD-SS and shaped by the social and economic contexts of a street-involved life. WWUD-SS’ ability to exercise external resilience may be undercut by experiencing structural vulnerabilities and competition for material resources that create transactional relationships and diminish the perceived value of social support. Internalized stigma, reflecting the larger society’s stigmatized views of drug use, sex work, and poverty, left WWUD-SS eschewing help from outside sources. Focus on internal resilience alone offers an incomplete picture of the construct in drug-using populations. Improving connections to community resources may be a targeted way to strengthen external resilience, as are policies addressing structural vulnerabilities for marginalized communities.
... In a large research sample spanning five continents, a 75% co-occurrence of homelessness and prostitution has been documented. 49 Nonetheless, the human right to shelter has rarely been provided to women who are coerced into prostitution by poverty and a lack of alternatives. In prostitution, one person has the economic, social, and legal power to hire another person to act like a sexualised puppet. ...
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This article describes the connections between resource extraction, prostitution, poverty, and climate change. Although resource extraction and prostitution have been viewed as separate phenomena, this article suggests that they are related harms that result in multiple violations of women's human rights. The businesses of resource extraction and prostitution adversely impact women's lives, especially those who are poor, ethnically or racially marginalised, and young. The article clarifies associations between prostitution and climate change on the one hand, and poverty, choicelessness, and the appearance of consent on the other. We discuss human rights conventions that are relevant to mitigation of the harms caused by extreme poverty, homelessness, resource extraction, climate change, and prostitution. These include anti-slavery conventions and women's sex-based rights conventions.
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Sexuality scholars have historically understudied the link between disability, sexual exclusion, and social justice, including equal rights for people living with disabilities (PLWD) to enjoy a sexual and intimate life in adulthood. There have been some recent efforts to rectify this situation, with studies emerging concerning strategies for promoting their sexual rights. Our Target Article explores one contentious service option—the possibility of “sexual assistance” for PLWD, which ranges in meaning across countries from sex surrogacy to physical contact with paid sexual assistants. We conducted a knowledge synthesis using a scoping review methodology to identify the breadth of the academic scholarship available and assess its alignment with current ethical and moral debates and recent policies and practices surrounding the sexual scripts of PLWD as they relate to sexual assistance. We categorized the relevant articles in our scoping review into two broad classes: those that support sex-negative perspectives (i.e., framing sexuality as risky, adversarial, etc.) and those that support sex-positive perspectives (i.e., framing sexuality as normative, consensual, etc.). Our results show that sex-negative cultural scripts call for limitations of the sexual rights of PLWD due to their inherent vulnerability as having disabled sexualities and/or due to their heightened risk of exploiting sexual partners, especially cis women who sell sexual services. The sex-positive cultural scripts understand PLWD as having the same rights to sexual citizenship as non-disabled individuals and that to achieve this, equitable access to sexual health services in decriminalized and regulated service environments is needed. We conclude with limitations of our investigation and recommendations for further research on this understudied topic, including the possible integration of positive disabled sexuality and abuse prevention.
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Commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) is a multifaceted global phenomenon in which adolescents involved in the child welfare system form a high-risk population. However, studies conducted in European countries remain scarce. We recruited a sample of 67 adolescents (50.7% girls and 47.8% boys) aged between 13 and 18 years old (M = 15.8; SD = 2.2) in residential care in the child welfare system in the south-east of Spain, and surveyed them about their runaway behavior, knowledge and perception of CSEC, and possible related preventive measures. Using a mixed-methods approach, we found that 47.8% of the adolescents reported having run away from the residential center and 92.5% knew someone that had run away. A total of 71.6% of the adolescents were aware of the problem of CSEC, and demanded more education and protection. They highlighted various motivations for engaging in this type of behavior. The use of ICT emerged as an important risk factor to take into account in prevention programs.
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This article discusses the ethical limits of gendered markets in relation to sex “work”. While the market is widely regarded as the optimal way of organizing complex global economies, this does not imply that there are no limits to markets for goods or services considered to have intrinsic human value or whose purchase raises moral and ethical questions. The ethical limits to markets are questions of increasing interest to both philosophers and policy makers while sex ‘work’/prostitution has been the subject of extensive feminist debate. We argue that there are fundamental aspects of sex ‘work’ transactions which raise important ethical problems for a market framework: namely, the commodification of consent through monetary exchange; the unique nature of the embodied nature of sexual services; and the implications for gender equality. What does analysing the nature of these exchanges from a feminist perspective suggest about the gendered dimensions of the moral or ethical limits of markets? We argue that consent cannot be commodified through monetary exchange; that being paid for embodied sexual acts differs importantly from other forms of sexual intimacy or relationality; and that sex ‘work’ has unique aspects that distinguish it from other forms of gendered labour markets including domestic and care work.
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This research paper is a stringent analysis of the condition of commercial sex workers in India and what is happening to them in this pandemic-stricken time. The study details their economic condition and what is forcing them to borrow money from treacherous lenders despite knowing the risks behind it. Apart from being exploited financially, they are also becoming vulnerable for sexual, emotional, and physical exploitation, worsening their situation even further. The research findings show that 90% of commercial sex workers in red light areas will be forced into a debt trap that is non-repayable in their lifetime, making it a massive movement of commercial sex workers entering into bonded labour, another form of modern-day slavery. Apart from the financial peril, poverty is forcing them to be in a situation of major health hazard. Being deprived of customers for so long, they might be forced to work in this uncertain situation making it an optimum ground for a super-spread of the virus. A rapid assessment method has been used to collect the data from numerous commercial sex workers across the nation. The collected data are analysed using qualitative analysis and also visualized for better understanding. As a means to provide tangible alternative solutions to the problem, the study strongly recommends occupational training programs for commercial sex workers that provide a transition into alternative livelihoods, government action against predatory high-interest loans, and the redevelopment of red light areas where economic returns can be reinvested into commercial sex worker retraining programs.
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Based upon both theory and research, pornography appears to play a major teaching role in the sexual beliefs and behaviors of men, women, and children. As a teacher, it is arousing, rewarding, and modeling. It miseducates about sexuality and relationships. It teaches unhealthy self-esteem, sexual narcissism, sexual entitlement, and relative deprivation. It is a potent drug that is both flexible and fast. It encourages permission-giving beliefs that include that sex is a commodity that we buy and if we can buy it, we can steal it. This makes a natural and potent pathway to sexual violence. Numerous studies show a variety of negative effects in both attitudes and behaviors, but the most troubling is this connection to sexual violence. The messages of pornography damage the providers of sex as well as the users of sex. The continuum of the sexual exploitation industry and the continuum of sexual abuse and violence are seamlessly interconnected.
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Interviewed 200 former and current female prostitutes (aged 10–46 yrs) about incidences of sexual abuse. Results document high levels of victimization of Ss before and following their entrance into prostitution. 60% were sexually abused as juveniles by an average of 2 males each. Over an average period of 20 mo, each abuser assaulted the child an average of 2 or 3 times. Victims ranged in age from 3 to 16 yrs. 63% were abused by their natural or surrogate fathers. In 81% of the cases, some kind of force was used. Ss reported that the sexual exploitation often produced severe physical harm, and the immediate emotional harm was also severe. All but 1 or 2% of Ss reported negative feelings about themselves, men, sex, and their mothers. 70% reported that the exploitation affected their decision to become a prostitute. The authors suggest that the willingness of Ss to endure abusive relationships (with pimps and customers) is related to a developed sense of psychological paralysis, in which Ss are unable to make sense of early abuses and therefore react with inaction, depression, and self-blame; Ss eventually retreat into a totally passive role. Findings suggest different points at which victim-oriented services are needed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)