Landscape of commercial sex before the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games
Matheson, Catherine M.
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Finkel, R. & Matheson, C. (2015) Landscape of commercial sex before the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events, 7 (3), pp. 251-265.
In the past decade, debates regarding the sex industries, especially street-level sex work, have become exacerbated by the hosting of international sporting events. Such issues as displacement, safety concerns and financial cuts to social services have contributed to the problematisation of the overlap between mega-event spaces and commercial sex spaces. This fuels the culture of social and physical marginalisation experienced by sex workers and perpetuates the stigma associated with commercial sex. The different approaches that destination cities have implemented to address these aspects of the urban environment reflect the gendered geographies of sex work. This research focuses on the landscape of the sex industries in Vancouver in an effort to illustrate the implications that the preparations for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games had on these particular communities. Qualitative research methods have been conducted in the form of in-depth, semi-structured interviews with city officials, police, former sex workers/current activists, academics, NGOs and community support charities. Gendered discourses concerning sex workers' rights to the city and how policy debates regarding criminalisation of demand/legalisation of sex work are linked to constructions of public space are also analysed. There is scope from the findings of this research to inform events-related social policies with regard to commercial sex, especially as more and more cities and countries bid for and host large-scale events.