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Gender and Social Work
Transcript of Gender and Social Work
Understanding rape, sex trade workers, domestic violence, and feminist social work practice
Feminist Social Work
Assumptions on why women are in sex trade work in the first place
The demographic of women in the industry
Being treated as fallen, beyond the pale, incapable of speaking for herself, discountable if she does speak, invisible member of society
Public conversations focus on laws and regulation aimed at controlling these stigmatized women rather than recognizing their agency
Seen as deviants or abnormal resulting in social death
Helping sex trade workers-
“Damned if you do…. Damned if you don’t dilemma”
Apathy and Disgust, Dehumanized
Morality and Law
Stigma and Impact
“Saving” of women who sell sex
Being a sex trade worker= not being a victim of rape
Myths in regards to sex trade workers
Police indifference to violence against sex trade workers
Humiliation and in-discrimination - shame, no honor, unworthy
Stigma interpreted in Canadian Society
Lack of literature
Issue not discussed in media
Some cases that have had implications on producing and reproducing these issues:
To discover and break down both the common and uncommon discourse surrounding issues of stigma against sex trade workers as well as domestic violence victims.
To pursue an understanding as to how feminist social work can assist individuals in such positions of vulnerability-namely; victimization, stigma, and domestic abuse.
multi-faceted and complex
resources are scant in the face of intersecting issues
Domestic violence increasing
ageing society; resources?
Minority groups' increasing representation of acquired AIDS
women are overworked, underpaid, and undersupported
“Running a house”
“Keeping a house”
Sex Workers in Vancouver
treated like criminals
street prostitution vs indoor prostitution
Most vulnerable are more vulnerable today
indoor setting - without fear of prosecution
outdoor setting - not allowed to publicly communicate for purposes of solicitation
Sex laws unconstitutional:
1. sex workers cannot set boundaries
2. It is illegal to have a common house
3. It is illegal to profit from the bills of prostitution
Power and coercion enacted on an intimate partner
Includes but is not limited to 3 main categories
Stigma attached to victims include being seen as weak, uneducated, poor, broken, or mentally ill
Leads victims to internalize oppression and blame
Often made to feel ashamed and embarrassed
NCIDENCES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OFTEN GO UNREPORTED
Why is it an issue?
Women have a higher chance to be assaulted, raped, or killed by an intimate partner, than any other perpetrator
Victims of domestic violence have an increased risk of issues:
Battering Syndrome: experienced after an assault; consists to depression, anxiety, PTSD, poor self-esteem, and a higher likelihood to attempt suicide
Canadian Society and Domestic Violence
Systemic factors: unequal power relations in Canadian social system
Structural barriers foster stresses associated with economic hardship and dependency
Women are forced to stay with abusive partners
Women must be financially secure to leave abusive relationships & survive independently
Institutional sexism leaves greater numbers of women unemployed and with lower wages than men
Domestic violence is influenced by patriarchal values deeply entrenched in society's gender norms
Far-reaching, broad, extensive
Key elements: gender and power
Power and control wheel
valuable and concise framework for seeing the interconnections between gender and violence
control tactics include isolation, economic/emotional abuse, threats, assertion of male privilege, etc
All women are vulnerable
Debunking the myth:
"Your sisters, your daughters, your mothers"
Problem: White-washing experiences
How to tackle this?
Interrogating our privilege
Gender as a social relation
Many efforts and initiatives have been organized in ON
Critical Gap in current services
Need for organizations to work on a political level
HUGE need for front-line service
Standard code of conduct
Case Study: Toronto focus groups
1. Respect our rights and freedoms as women
2. Support our needs as women
3. Show us respect and treat us with dignity
4. Recognize our rightful place as equals, with all our human, political, social, and economic rights
5. Create safe spaces where decriminalization is challenged and actively resisted
6. Take the time to needed to hear and understand us
7. Strive to offer us helpful and timely assistance
8. Involve us in your decisions as you plan and implement programs
9. Ensure your organization's staff and the materials you distribute recognize and reflect the diversity of the communities you serve
10. Make your organization a place where each of us can feel safe, welcome, and free to be who we are
SWOP: Sex Trade Workers Outreach Program
Canadian and American resource
Offers health info, FAQ, how to protect your rights and legal information for different counties and provinces
Link to related resources and organizations that offer dignified services
Offers printable information to be used in community events
How to get involved?
working group in Hamilton
International Day to end violence against sex workers: March Vigil
Goal: To foster awareness and eliminate systemic and physical violence against sex trade workers
Recommendations for Social Workers
Promote the prosecution of those who exploit, kidnap, or abuse women and in particular, sex workers
Promote economic justice, employment opportunities, and education for all women
Destigmatize and Depathologize sex workers
Allowing the state to regulate sex work places greater authority in the hands of those who have historically been violent towards these women
Support both women who want to leave sex work and those who do not want to leave sex work
Provide and link women to needed services
Validate the experiences of women in the sex trade
NOTE: decriminalization of sex work does not immediately solve the problem of abuse.
Shifting the balance of power and working from a stages of change model.
Change does not come immediately!
What is the link between the two issues?