Table of Contents

Handbook on Gender and Health

Handbook on Gender and Health

International Handbooks on Gender series

Edited by Jasmine Gideon

This Handbook brings together a groundbreaking collection of chapters that uses a gender lens to explore health, healthcare and health policy in both the Global South and North. Empirical evidence is drawn from a variety of different settings and points to the many ways in which the gendered dimensions of health have become reworked across the globe.

Chapter 16: Migration and sex work in South Africa: key concerns for gender and health

Marlise Richter and Jo Vearey

Subjects: development studies, family and gender policy, social policy and sociology, family and gender policy, health policy and economics


This chapter explores the complex intersection of gender and health through the experiences of migrant sex workers in South Africa, a country associated with high levels of population mobility _ both within the country and across borders _ and where sex work is illegal. Drawing on quantitative and qualitative data exploring the lived experiences of male, female and transgendered sex workers in South Africa, and a review of existing legislative frameworks, the chapter unpacks how migration and sex work are critical concerns for gender and health scholars and practitioners. It outlines the range of structural and gendered vulnerabilities experienced by migrant sex workers that are associated with increasingly restrictive immigration legislation, the criminalization of sex work, a strong anti-trafficking agenda, conservative international donor restrictions, and negative public opinion. These vulnerabilities are further exacerbated through direct violence from the police, clients and the general public. The chapter concludes by highlighting the need for structural interventions in health policy and programming by exploring the challenges that exist for health and gender scholars and activists concerned with studying and addressing the health and well-being of migrant sex workers in South Africa and beyond.

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