International Development, Community, and Environment

Title

Regulating Sex Work: Subjectivity and Stigma in Senegal

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Senegal provides a unique example of a sub-Saharan African country with a legal framework for the regulation of commercial sex work. While registering as a legal sex worker affords women access to valuable social and medical resources, sex work is condemned by Senegalese society. Women who engage in sex work occupy a socially marginal status and confront a variety of stigmatising discourses and practices that legitimate their marginality. This paper examines two institutions that provide social and medical services to registered sex workers in Dakar: a medical clinic and a non-governmental organisation. It highlights the discourses about sex work that women encounter within these institutions and in their everyday lives. Women’s accounts reveal a variety of strategies for managing stigma, from discretion and deception to asserting self-worth. As registered sex workers negotiate their precarious social position, their strategies both reproduce and challenge stigmatising representations of sex work. Their experiences demonstrate the contradictory outcomes of the Senegalese approach to regulating sex work.

Publication Title

Culture, Health and Sexuality

Publication Date

1-2-2017

Volume

19

Issue

1

First Page

50

Last Page

63

ISSN

1369-1058

DOI

10.1080/13691058.2016.1190463

Keywords

prostitution, Senegal, sex work, State surveillance, stigma, subjectivity

Disciplines

Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology

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