Despite the public health impact of STIs and the potential risks to personal safety that homeless women may be exposed to, there are few references in the literature to transactional sex within the context of Indigenous homelessness in Australia. She argued that dispossessed Indigenous women were often left with little choice but to enter into prostitution in order to survive or contribute to the survival of kin. However, very little is known about the role of transactional sex in homelessness.
With such limited documented knowledge on this subject, policy that explicitly addresses this aspect of homelessness, which leads to the delivery of appropriate services and supports for this population, is yet to be developed. Holmes and McRae-Williams recommended that the vulnerability of homeless Indigenous women in Darwin to sexual exploitation and predators should be investigated with a view to improving their health and life quality.
Aligned with the national homelessness research priorities, this study is a response to that recommendation. As a subject that has received little scholarly attention and one that has the potential to raise ethical debate, this report has aimed to ensure that the context necessary to gain an in-depth and meaningful understanding of the subject is provided. Following a brief overview of the study objectives, a detailed examination of the relevant literature on transactional sex and Indigenous homelessness is provided.
Drawing from this knowledge base, the methodology and methods used in this exploratory study is then described. Implications for policy and program development and delivery are then discussed. The report then concludes with an outline of areas for further development and investigation stemming from this inquiry.
Objectives of study This exploratory study was guided by the following questions: How does transactional sex relate to the drivers of homelessness among Indigenous women? What role does transactional sex have in determining the risks to this population and how are these managed? The exchange of sex for monetary gain is then explored from the divergent feminist perspectives of the exchange as a form of violence and as a form of work. Limitations of these opposing positions in relation to this present study are explored and the need to move beyond these feminist discourses in relation to homeless Indigenous women is discussed.
To adequately position the study, the divergent and multifaceted meaning of homelessness is explored through a discussion on the meaning of home. The review then focuses on the profound effects of colonisation on Aboriginal peoples and the implications for contemporary homelessness.
Issues with quantifying homeless populations in the Northern Territory are examined and the lived experience of homelessness for Aboriginal people in Darwin is explored. It captures the economic exchange that may be implicit or explicit in sexual relationships. Hence, in academic critique transactional sex incorporates discussions on explicit exchanges of sex for money and the sex industry, right through to the role of economic exchange within ordinary sexual relationships.
The debates within the literature span: For a very long time, the practice and its actors have been enshrined in ethical and moral debate. What is known about transactional sex among homeless Indigenous women? While a growing amount of literature on less vulnerable groups is becoming available, it is the lower stratum of women engaged in the sexual exchanges that have remained the dominant focus of research. As a result, Vanwesenbeeck suggests that these studies shaped by discourses of sexual victimisation and sexual risks have maintained the association between prostitution and misery.
They have advocated for its abolition on the grounds that it is a profound form of violence against women and that it creates and maintains gender inequalities in society. Satz argues that prostitution represents women as the sexual servants of men. Feminists who argue for the abolition of prostitution focus attention on the victimisation experienced by prostituted women, such as incidence of early childhood abuse, exposure to violence and various forms of social and sexual subordination.
MacKinnon has stated: Prostitution occurs within multiple power relations of domination, degradation, and subservience of the pimp and trick over the prostitute: These critics argue that the call for abolition is merely another expression of patriarchy which attempts to repress, constrain and regulate the sexual expression of women English et al.
Pro-sex worker feminists maintain that abolitionist views fail to take into account the range and possibilities of sexual experience. Pro-sex work views are generally positioned within a market economy paradigm where the exchange of sex for money is described as an industry of sex work which employs sex workers.
By taking a pro-sex work position, most authors either reject arguing its emancipation virtues , avoid or ignore the proposition that the exchange is fundamentally an act of violence against women, whereby gender-based power disparities are reinforced and maintained through the institution Satz,