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Minding Your Peers and Queers: female sex workers in the AIDS discourse in Australia and South-east Asia {1}

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Abstract:

Sex workers have been incorporated into the Western AIDS discourse initially as a category of 'risk group'. The model of 'peer education' developed successfully by gay men in the West has been used with sex workers in Australia and is being exported to South-east Asia. This paper shows that the role of the 'peer educator' is paradoxical, and embedded in locally specific laws, cultural factors and power relations involving the sex industry. Ignoring the politico-cultural context can mean that peer workers are involved in their own surveillance and in reinforcing the stigma of sex work. The 'Asian prostitute' has been characterised both as an exotic commodity and as the focus of 'AIDS panic'; however, alternative voices express both complexity of the sex industry and more immediate concerns which need to be confronted before HIV/AIDS can be given meaning.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09663699650021936

Publication date: 1996-03-01

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