Title: Negotiating boundaries at (central) margins: migrants and sex work in a South African border town

Authors: Anna Hüncke

Addresses: Division of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Department of History and Sociology, University of Konstanz, Box 38, 78457 Konstanz, Germany

Abstract: In exploring the role of migrant sex workers in Musina, the South African border town to Zimbabwe, I question the marginal character often assigned to sex work and migration. Sex workers are dichotomised as victims or perpetrators when they are presented as migrants who are vulnerable to sexual exploitation and whose health and morality are in a precarious state. Alternatively, they are depicted as independent breadwinners whose criminalisation pushes them to social margins and leads to health risks. But although they are exposed to violence and deportation, migrants who sell sex do not (always) fall into marginal categories. They sometimes see sex work as least risky option compared to alternatives and rather challenge these categories with their bodies and their lived realities. In migrant sex workers' understanding the border area is a space where they can risk something to secure something. As moving bodies they traverse physical space and blur the centre-margin dichotomy applied in discourses on sex work and migration.

Keywords: borders; social margins; liminality; transitional stage; sex work; migration; illegal migrants; criminalisation; victim-perpetrator dichotomy; centre-margin dichotomy; South Africa; border towns; migrant sex workers; victims; perpetrators; sexual exploitation; health risks; morality; independent breadwinners.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMBS.2016.074640

International Journal of Migration and Border Studies, 2016 Vol.2 No.1, pp.77 - 90

Available online: 10 Feb 2016 *

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