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Sex, Lies and Olympic Games: Case Study of Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010

By Rebecca Finkel and Catherine M Matheson


Debates concerning the criminalisation of commercialised sex and the language, policies and practices that should be implemented regarding sex work/prostitution are ongoing in women's studies and feminist geography literature (Agustin, 2008; Doezema, 2001; Farley, 2003; Hubbard, 1998; Kempadoo, 2003). This paper seeks to contextualise these debates in an events management framework. In the past decade, issues regarding the sex industry and violence against women have become exacerbated by the hosting of global sporting events, and destination cities have been implementing different approaches to address these aspects of the urban environment. This research focuses on a case study of Vancouver as host of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and examines the situation regarding the debates to legalise sex work. Qualitative research methods have been conducted in the form of in-depth, semi-structured interviews with city officials, police, former sex workers, academics, NGO's and women's charities. The landscape of the sex industry in Vancouver is analysed in an effort to illustrate the impacts that the preparations for the Olympic Games has had on frontline support agencies and harm reduction strategies. It has been found that the already existing divisions between the groups who want prostitution abolished by criminalising demand and those who view sex work as work and, thus, want it legalised have surfaced and become more entrenched due to the media spotlight the Olympics has put on the city. Other factors, such as displacement, safety concerns and financial cuts to services have contributed to the problematisation of the overlap between mega event spaces and commercial sex spaces.\ud \ud References\ud Agustin, L. (2008) Sex and the limits of enlightenment: The irrationality of legal regimes to control prostitution. Sexuality Research and Social Policy: Journal of NSRC, 5 (4), 73-86.\ud \ud Doezema, J. (2001) Ouch! Western feminists 'wounded attachment' to the Third World prostitute. Feminist Review, 67, 16-38.\ud \ud Farley, M. (2003) Prostitution and the invisibility of harm. Women and Therapy, 26 (3-4), 247–280.\ud \ud Hubbard, P. (1998) Sexuality, immorality and the city: Red-light districts and the marginalisation of female street prostitutes. Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, 5 (1), 55-76.\ud \ud Kempadoo, K. (2003) Globalizing sex workers' rights. Canadian Woman Studies, 22 (3, 4), 143-150

OAI identifier: oai:eresearch.qmu.ac.uk:1793

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