Governments control sex work space not only through legislation but also through regulations and implementation choices. The investigation eventually yielded evidence that Valentina had been sexually abused and killed, and that her body was later placed near the school playground, where it was found, Montenegro told me. This identifies the red-light district as always becoming, a complex assemblage made and remade through the folding together of these different types of space. Although states have power over sex workers in excluding them spatially from mainstream society, the spaces sex workers do occupy can symbolize their resilience and provide them a place of their own within society. While there is a growing body of research in this area, for instance in New South Wales NSW , Australia and New Zealand [ 4 , 16 , 17 , 18 ], more research on the conditions within different contexts of legal sex work is warranted, particularly in developing countries.
Sex workers who choose to work in a brothel for its security, however, must trade off income and agency. Finally, how do states decide how to regulate sex work space, and what strategies do sex workers employ to negotiate these spaces with the state? Sex workers expressed different individual preferences for spaces, and government limitation of these spaces represented one of their major concerns. Different types of spaces used by sex workers offer different working conditions. I also sought to find out how participants thought sex work conditions could be improved and what legal model of sex work they wanted. Brothels can thus provide security as compared with street-based or escort and private work, where sex workers may not have protection from client violence unless they pay a guard or pimp, who may also exert violence [ 39 , 48 , 49 , 50 ]. First, what is the relationship between sex workers and space, and what conditions do they experience in different types of spaces? Sex workers may also develop personal attachments to their places of work. These choices all influence what spaces sex workers have access to and therefore the conditions they experience. Some brothels may choose not to comply with regulations because they can save on costs, or they may profit from exploiting their workers. Just as marginalized racial, ethnic, or class groups may occupy specific places within a city, so, too, may marginalized sexualities. As a hub for business and tourism, the microcentro was safer and more easily accessible than many of the other areas of prostitution in Buenos Aires. Governments control sex work space not only through legislation but also through regulations and implementation choices. The spaces where sex work takes place, therefore, are the result of conflicting pressures in a complex evolutionary system. Further, brothel-based sex workers may have less freedom to come and go as they please or to choose their clients. According to UNICEF, based on official statistics, victims only file complaints in about 15 percent of sexual violence cases in Ecuador. In Nevada, USA, many legal brothels have emergency buttons in the bedrooms so sex workers can call in security if a client becomes violent or refuses to wear a condom [ 43 , 46 , 47 ]. See Appendix A for a list of all interviews conducted, Supplement A for a list of typical questions, and Supplement B for consent forms used. In 28 surveyed countries, nine out of 10 adolescent girls who have experienced forced sex say this happened for the first time during adolescence. Sex workers frequently find ways to escape or subvert state control, however. Brothels and other sex work businesses likely choose their locations in reaction to state policies and client demand [ 36 , 40 ]. For instance, in NSW, Australia, despite state law allowing brothels to operate as legal businesses, some local governments continue to place stricter regulations on brothels than other businesses [ 40 , 55 , 56 ]. All subjects gave their informed verbal or written consent for inclusion before they participated in the study. Gay communities, for instance, often occupy specific neighborhoods or businesses; prostitution similarly occupies specific locations [ 28 , 29 ]. Other residents may complain about the presence of sex work, leading the state to intervene and force sex workers out of a space where they were previously tolerated [ 20 , 41 ], or to preemptively allow sex work only in nonresidential or industrial areas [ 42 ].
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