Title

The nexus between sex-work and women’s empowerment in the context of transitional societies of Southeast Asia

Document Type

Book chapter

Publication details

Szablewska, N & Bradley, C 2014, 'The nexus between sex-work and women’s empowerment in the context of transitional societies of Southeast Asia', in N Szablewska & SD Bachmann (eds), Current issues in transitional justice: towards a more holistic approach, Springer International Publishing, Switzerland, Springer Series in Transitional Justice vol. 4, pp. 235- 260. ISBN: 9783319093895

Published version available from:

http://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-09390-1_10

Abstract

In this chapter we attempt to create a dialogical space exploring the need for transitional justice processes to engage in development issues by examining the meaning of women’s empowerment within the sex-work discourse in transitional societies. Drawing on sex workers’ narratives in Southeast Asia we discuss the diversity of the sex industry and the motivations to enter into it. Inclusion of sex workers’ narratives in the debate becomes instrumental in helping to appreciate the complexity of pathways of women’s empowerment in transitional societies by highlighting how women’s sexual relationships define and affect women’s political, social and economic empowerment. By focusing on sex-work within the empowerment discourse we attempt to illustrate the dangers of generalisations and the negative impact of development and transitional justice mechanisms that lack sensitivity to the local context. We argue that for wider social transformative changes to take place in transitional societies women’s rights must not merely be acknowledged, but rather transitional processes and mechanisms must prioritise the facilitation of empowerment of the vulnerable, including women and the particular groups within.