In Whose Name? Migration, Sex Work and Trafficking Presentation of the findings of the ‘Migrant Workers in the UK Sex Industry

NIck Mai (2011): In Whose Name? Migration, Sex Work and Trafficking Presentation of the findings of the ‘Migrant Workers in the UK Sex Industry, ESRC.

Full research article available here. 

Key points

• The majority of the migrant workers in the UK sex industry we interviewed were not forced or trafficked
• Immigration status is by far the single most important factor restricting their ability to exercise their rights in their professional and private lives
• Working in the sex industry is often a way for those interviewed to avoid the unrewarding and sometimes exploitative conditions they meet in non-sexual jobs
• By working in the sex industry, many interviewees are able to maintain dignified living standards in the UK while dramatically improving the living conditions of their families in the country of origin
• The stigmatisation of sex work is the main problem interviewees experienced while working in the sex industry and this impacts negatively on both their private and professional lives
• The combination of the stigmatisation of sex work and lack of legal immigration documentation makes interviewees more vulnerable to violence and abuse 
Relations between sex workers and clients are described as generallymutually consensual and respectful, although some reported problematic clients who were disrespectful, aggressive or abusive
• The impossibility of guaranteeing indefinite leave to remain to victims of trafficking undermines the efforts of the Police and other authorities against criminal organisations
• Most interviewees feel that the criminalisation of clients will not reduce demand or exploitation in the sex industry and that it will be pushed underground, making it more difficult for migrants working in 
the UK sex industry to assert their rights in relation to both clients and employers
• All interviewees thought that legalising sex work and the people involved and making it easier for all migrants to become and remain documented would improve their living and working conditions and  enable them to exercise their rights more fully


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