My dear friend, colleague and partner in crime, Matthias Lehmann, hailing from Berlin, Germany and currently residing in northern Thailand, is about to embark on a two-month independent research project in Seoul, South Korea examining sex workers’ rights and the impacts of anti-trafficking policy. Hear what he has to say about the project and support him if you can!
Background of the Research Project
Through my thesis research, I have gained a deeper insight into the negative side effects of anti-trafficking policies. Some of them are undesired or unexpected consequences; others result from problems related to the implementation of new legislation, such as a lack of knowledge, training or aptitude of law enforcement officials; and finally, some are desired side effects, i.e., policies that are intentionally worded vaguely enough to satisfy international agreements but leave enough leverage to deter unofficial migration or illegal labour, including sex work.
My friend Caroline Key, a Fulbright Grantee, is currently engaged in two film projects involving Korean sex workers. Triggered by extensive discussions with her about her work, my own research into the subject, and by recent protests in the Yeongdeungpo red-light district in Seoul, I developed a plan to get a first-hand impression, and conduct primary research.
The subject of sex workers’ rights is of particular importance for two reasons. First, there is a growing network of sex workers organising on a global scale to protect the human rights of sex workers and to assist anti-trafficking efforts. Governments often fail to acknowledge the rights of sex workers, and discriminate those that are not victims of human trafficking as “voluntary” sex workers, undeserving of the protection that other workers enjoy. Second, the conflation of anti-trafficking measures with campaigns to eradicate the sex industry has resulted in uneven policies that both underserve the majority of trafficking victims as well as driving the sex industry further underground, thus cutting off sex workers from their support networks. The legalisation or decriminalisation of sex work is a hotly contested issue that deserves to be discussed on the basis of sound knowledge, which I would like to attain through this research project.
How to Donate
You can donate money to Matt’s research project via PayPal and learn more about what he has to say at his blog here. Any and all support is greatly appreciated. You can also follow the project on Facebook and Twitter!