Sex work is work

Sex work – the consensual sale of sex between adults – is an important livelihood activity for some migrants in South Africa.  Currently all aspects of sex work are illegal, resulting in multiple forms of violence against male, female and transgendered people working in the industry.  In this research area, we explore intersections between sex work, migration, health and well-being.

Research projects involve a partnership with Sisonke – the South African National Sex Worker Movement, and involvement in various policy processes.

Using mixed method and inter-disciplinary approaches, including arts-based methods, our research projects explore the lived experiences of migrant sex workers in South Africa.  Research contributes to a range of policy and programmatic interventions, including efforts supporting the decriminalisation of sex work in South Africa.

Image by Constance, taken as part of the 2010 Working the City project.

About Jo Vearey

Jo Vearey is an Associate Professor with the African Centre for Migration & Society, University of the Witwatersrand. She holds an Honorary Fellowship with the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh, and a Senior Fellowship at the Centre for Peace, Development and Democracy at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. In 2015, Jo was awarded a Humanities and Social Science Wellcome Trust Investigator Award. Jo holds a MSc in the Control of Infectious Diseases (LSHTM, 2003), a PhD in Public Health (Wits, 2010), and has been rated by the National Research Foundation as a Young Researcher. In 2014 and 2015, Jo received a Friedel Sellschop Award from the University of the Witwatersrand for outstanding young researchers. She was a Marie Curie Research Fellow in 2013, at the UNESCO Chair on Social and Spatial Inclusion of Migrants, University of Venice (SSIM-IUAV), Venice, Italy.

With a commitment to social justice and the development of pro-poor policy responses, Jo’s research explores international, regional, national and local responses to migration, health, and urban vulnerabilities. Her research interests focus on urban health, public health, migration and health, the social determinants of health, HIV, informal settlements and sex work. Jo is particularly interested in knowledge production, dissemination and utilisation including the use of visual and arts-based methodologies.

Jo has a range of international collaborations, including an ESRC-NRF funded project with the University of Edinburgh, a WOTRO funded project with the VU University, Amsterdam on migration and sex work, and partnerships with the University of Massachusetts Boston and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine‘s Faculty of Public Health and Policy and Gender, Violence and Health Unit.

CV | Publications

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