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The many faces of care: a comparative analysis of anti-trafficking approaches to domestic work and sex work in the Philippines

Parmanand, Sharmila ORCID: 0000-0003-2461-7470 (2022) The many faces of care: a comparative analysis of anti-trafficking approaches to domestic work and sex work in the Philippines. Ethics and Social Welfare, 16 (2). 129 - 143. ISSN 1749-6535

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Identification Number: 10.1080/17496535.2022.2070234


Human rights groups in the Philippines built on the momentum of the United Nations Anti-Trafficking Protocol to address precarious and feminized labor. This paper examines how care has been conceptualized and practiced by Philippine anti-trafficking and women’s rights groups in relation to domestic workers and sex workers. Based on ethnographic research with Filipino sex workers, and a critical historiography of the campaigns for legislation on domestic work, trafficking, and sex work, this paper demonstrates that the contrasting approaches to domestic work and sex work construct certain types of income-generating activities as ‘labor’ and others as ‘abuse’, and reify a hierarchy of work, with domestic work seen as virtuous and sex work as stigmatizing. This increases the precarity of sex workers and inadvertently normalizes exploitation in other feminized work by positioning prostitution as their ‘always worse Other’. It also shows that by seeking to induce a ‘sympathetic shift’ through redefining sex work as victimhood, women’s rights groups have re-inscribed the distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ women, and entrenched sex workers’ exclusion from political life. Secondly, this paper proposes that anti-trafficking groups consider sex work alongside other forms of intimate labor and support interventions focused on workers’ rights.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author
Divisions: Gender Studies
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2022 09:36
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2023 00:15

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