Economics and Development

Economics and Development

Although it is well accepted that sex work and poverty, stigma and inequality are linked, too often simplistic assumptions about these factors lead to ineffective, and even harmful, programmes and policies. PLRI aims to establish broader understandings of the economics of sex work and relate them to the challenges of optimising the benefits of economic programs and policies on development, human rights and public health outcomes. We are also committed to helping establish broader understandings of the economics of the sex sector, the demand for, and supply of, commercial sex; the factors that determine prices and behaviours within sex industries, the economic re-distributional effects of commercial sex and the impact of economic trends on people that buy, sell or trade sexual services. To achieve this PLRI research will analyse sex work economies as they relate to social protection, livelihoods strengthening and equitable development policy and programming.


  • Security, Equality, and the Clash of Ideas: Sweden's Evolving Anti-Trafficking Policy - 2012
    An article in Human Rights Review.
    Seeking to explain the emergence of anti-trafficking initiatives, scholars have explored two sets of ideas—national security and gender equality—thought to shape policy. In this study, we examine whether such ideational influence accounts for Sweden's evolving anti-trafficking policy over the past decade.
  • The Impact of Abuse History and Trauma Symptoms on Successful Completion of a Prostitution-exiting Program - 2012

    This study examines the trauma symptoms and life experiences of 49 women in a residential prostitution-exiting program and identifies differences among women who complete 90 days of the program and women who drop out of the program prior to completing 90 days. The majority of the women reported childhood abuse, adult abusive relationships, and victimization. Women who completed 90 days of treatment were found to be older than the non-completers.

  • Transactional Sex as a Response to Risk in Western Kenya - 2011

    Though formal and informal sex work has long been identified as crucial for the spread of HIV/AIDS, the nature of the sex-for-money market remains poorly understood. Using a unique panel dataset constructed from 192 self-reported diaries, we find that women who engage in transactional sex substantially increase their supply of risky, better compensated sex to cope with unexpected health shocks, particularly the illness of another household member.

  • '70% sex workers opt for prostitution' - 2011

    This news story was written by Aarefa Johari for the Hindustan Times on the 1 May 2011. The story is a write up of the launch of the 'First pan-India survey of sex workers', conducted by Pune University academicians Rohini Sahni and V Kalyan Shankar.

  • 'Better pay 'drives' women to prostitution' - 2011

    A news story in the Times of India by Anahita Mukherji which highlights our research on sex work's position in the labour market in India. This story was published on Labour Day, or May Day, 2011.

  • 70 per cent women enter flesh trade voluntarily: study - 2011

    An article in the Indian Express by Shruti Nambiar on the 3 May 2011.

    Pune: Seventy per cent of women sex workers are not pushed or forced into flesh trade but are drawn to it by the lure of higher income, according to the preliminary result of a survey released by women’s group Akshara.

    The preliminary results of the first leg of a pan-India study being conducted by two University of Pune researchers was released on April 30.

  • An Exploratory Study of the Social Contexts, Practices and Risks of Men Who Sell Sex in Southern and Eastern Africa - 2011

    The aim of the research presented in this report was to explore the social contexts, life experiences, vulnerabilities and sexual risks experienced by men who sell sex in Southern and Eastern Africa, with a focus on five countries; Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. It sought to better understand differing and similar socio-cultural scenarios and personal life stories of male sex workers in these countries and to improve the representation of male sex workers in relevant regional organisations, particularly within the African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA).

  • Better livelihood prospect drives poor Indian women to prostitution - 2011

    An article by Subir Ghosh in Digital World published on the 1 May 2011.

    New Delhi, India. Four out of five female sex workers in India have joined the profession voluntarily; they were not forced or sold into it. Prostitution is just one among several livelihood options available to women from poor backgrounds, says a new survey.

  • Choice in the labour market – sex work as “work” - 2011

    A blog post by Nivedita Menon on Kafila, 6 May 2011.

    The summary of preliminary findings of the first pan-India survey of sex-workers is now available on-line.  3000 women from 14 states and 1 UT were surveyed, all of them from outside collectivised/organised and therefore politically active spaces, precisely  “in order to bring forth the voices of a hitherto silent section of sex workers.”

    The significant finding is this: About 71 percent of them said they had entered the profession willingly.

  • Cost effectiveness of targeted HIV prevention interventions for female sex workers in India - 2011

    Article in Sex. Transm. Infect. 2011;87:263.

    Objective To ascertain the cost effectiveness of targeted interventions for female sex workers (FSW) under the National AIDS Control Programme in India.

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