Sex-work and Mobility as a Coping Strategy for Marginalized Hungarian Roma Women
AbstractThe increased inflow of Hungarian sex-workers has significantly shaped Zurich’s inner-city red-light district since 2008. Conversely, the social structures in the home settlements of these Roma sex-workers in Hungary have developed in a fundamentally different direction. These women – usually branded as suppressed, destitute and marginalised – act simultaneously as breadwinners, legal prostitutes, transnational mothers and labour migrants within Europe. The driving forces of this new development are outlined in this article and analysed within a new theoretical framework of migration theory. Whereas neo-classical economic theories cannot fully explain why some households of marginalised groups, such as the Roma, step into prostitution and migration, this study attempts to overcome the current research impasse regarding legal sex-work migrants by using empirical analysis with qualitative methods and a multi-sited approach. This investigation reveals that for most Hungarian sex-workers in Zurich, prostitution and mobility are parts of a coping strategy to deal with economic and social marginalisation. Therefore, the reasons for prostitution and the mobility of those women are deeply embedded in the macroeconomic, political and social exclusion of Hungarian Roma.
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