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Rizik i nasilje
Risk and Violence

An Anthropological Investigation into Sex Work in Belgrade

Author(s): Bojan Žikić
Subject(s): Studies in violence and power, Victimology
Published by: Srpski genealoški centar
Summary/Abstract: This is an ethnography-based study on social epidemiology of seks work. It concerns risk-generating factors for various blood-borne diseases and sexually transmitted infections. It features the world of female and travestite sex-works of Serbian capital city and its surrounding, mostly of those street-based, but some of them working in agency or as an escort also. The main topic of the study is to list, analyse and discuss factors and circumstances responsible for social epidemiological vulnerability of the members of this marginal population. The data is acquired by performing in-depth interviews mostly, but also by using survey on harm-reduction and prevention of HIV/AIDS, HCV and STI. Sex work has been discussed only as a referential frame for social epidemiological analysis, where general theoretical views on it have been featured, but in that matter, which had not obscure the primary goal of the research. The methodology of recruiting the informants and collecting the data has been presented, alongside with the basic ethnography of sex work in Belgrade, including life circumstances leading person to become the sex worker, initiation to sex work, way somebody’s professional routine is organised, and the (il)legal frame of it. Professional behaviour of sex workers, concerning various ways of endangering their health has been discussed, focused primary on the issues like having protected or unprotected sex with clients, partners, and pimps – motives for doing so and circumstances of such performances; economic hardship; substance abuse. Structural violence has been identified as a major force of determination concerning relations within the sex work milieu, where it is revealed that such violence has been multidirected, from- and to every principle category, engaged in sex work milieu this way or another: sex workers, their spouses, relatives or partners, clients, law enforce officers. It is concluded that sex working population could become epidemiological bridge to wider population eventually, but that harm reduction and prevention focused to the sex workers solely would prove to be futile unless it is realised that the legal status of their profession contributes much to their vulnerability, together with customers’ irresponsibility by insisting on risky practices when buying sex.

  • Page Count: 278
  • Publication Year: 2008
  • Language: Serbian