Behind the prostitution debate in South Africa - Constructions of gender

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Behind the prostitution debate in South Africa - Constructions of gender

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Publication Bachelor thesis
Title Behind the prostitution debate in South Africa - Constructions of gender
Author(s) Ekebrand, Helene ; Mattisson, Ellen
Date 2010
English abstract
Prostitution is illegal in South Africa, but there is an ongoing debate about whether prostitution should be decriminalized or not. The purpose of this report is to look closely at some of the participants in the debate, their main aims, how they work to reach their aims and how structural gender relations are reflected in their argumentations. To answer to the purpose, the participants’ argumentations are viewed from a social constructionism perspective. The participants have different opinions about what the main problem concerning prostitution is. They either consider prostitution itself or the stigma of prostitutes as the main problem. What they consider the problem to be, affects what they want to achieve by participating in the debate, and how they work to achieve this. Prostitution is constructed by the different participants as; a threat towards moral values, a threat towards national economy and public safety, a normal service industry or as a result of structural gender relations. The different ways the participants construct prostitution depend on their main aims. Gender relations can be seen in the participants’ argumentations through their constructions of prostitutes and sex buyers. The sex buyer is constructed as a man who does not have control over his sexual needs and is therefore not responsible for his sexual actions. The prostitute is constructed as a woman who needs to be controlled by the law in order to be protected from being a victim of structural gender relations. The prostitute is also constructed as an unattractive and filthy woman who is unworthy of respect. A third construction of the prostitute is a woman who through legislation has lost her rights to control her own life. All participants’ argumentations imply that women, and not men, should change to decrease problems concerning prostitution.
Publisher Malmö högskola/Hälsa och samhälle
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) debate
gender relations
sex buyer
social constructionism
South Africa
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