Research Topic

Gender, Migration, Marginalization and Sex Work

About this Research Topic

In 2019, the United Nations estimated that the global migrant population was 272 million (3.5% of the world’s population). At least 79.5 million people globally have been forced to flee their countries of origin due to gender-based violence, interethnic conflict, persecution, war, famine and climate change. Still more seek to escape poverty and joblessness by seeking opportunities elsewhere, particularly in the global North. The conditions that many of these people must endure during displacement, en route and when they arrive at a destination are often dangerous and inhumane. Politics of closing borders and ‘controlling’ migration make these journeys even more difficult, dangerous and expensive. Research shows also that worldwide, gender is an important determinate in the experiences of migration and the treatment that refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants receive from host countries. Furthermore, the way in which gender interacts with categories such as ‘race’, ethnicity, sexuality and class reveals a series of institutional failures in migration systems. In short, many fall short of meeting migrants’ basic requirements for health, safety and human dignity.

Faced with precarious living situations, grinding poverty, the threat of violence, deportation and socio-economic marginalization, many migrants turn to sex work as a survival strategy. Yet, sex work is a complex and hotly debated legal, political and cultural issue. For example, citizens who engage in sex work – female, male and transgender sex workers – face constant discrimination, stigma, the threat of violence and prosecution. Migrant sex workers face not only these indignities, but they risk also being subjected to the full force of the state through deportation. Therefore, they are also constantly threatened by repressive migratory regulations. This further excludes them from accessing legal, social and health support services they require desperately. Many migrants may not identify themselves or be identified as sex workers, but will engage in transactional sexual relations to be able to continue their journeys, or to survive in a host country. Yet, there is a lacunae in the academic scholarship on this issue.

This Research Topic featured in Frontiers in Human Dynamics: Refugees and Conflict, intends to motivate international feminist debates on this important and timely issue. Specifically, we seek submissions of articles that offer sophisticated theoretical contributions as well as empirical analyses. The following themes are of particular interest:

• Rethinking theory on migration, sex workers and governance
• Gender, sex work, migration and marginalization
• The challenges of the criminal law and migrant sex workers
• Migration, sex work, human rights and policy
• Minors, migration and sex work
• Poverty, transnationalism and sex work
• The challenges of social justice for migrant sex workers
• Migration and transactional sex
• Boundaries between transactional sex and sex work
• Sex work, health and well-being of migrants


Keywords: Gender, Migration, Marginalization, Criminal Law, Social Justice, Poverty, Governance, Policy, Health


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

In 2019, the United Nations estimated that the global migrant population was 272 million (3.5% of the world’s population). At least 79.5 million people globally have been forced to flee their countries of origin due to gender-based violence, interethnic conflict, persecution, war, famine and climate change. Still more seek to escape poverty and joblessness by seeking opportunities elsewhere, particularly in the global North. The conditions that many of these people must endure during displacement, en route and when they arrive at a destination are often dangerous and inhumane. Politics of closing borders and ‘controlling’ migration make these journeys even more difficult, dangerous and expensive. Research shows also that worldwide, gender is an important determinate in the experiences of migration and the treatment that refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants receive from host countries. Furthermore, the way in which gender interacts with categories such as ‘race’, ethnicity, sexuality and class reveals a series of institutional failures in migration systems. In short, many fall short of meeting migrants’ basic requirements for health, safety and human dignity.

Faced with precarious living situations, grinding poverty, the threat of violence, deportation and socio-economic marginalization, many migrants turn to sex work as a survival strategy. Yet, sex work is a complex and hotly debated legal, political and cultural issue. For example, citizens who engage in sex work – female, male and transgender sex workers – face constant discrimination, stigma, the threat of violence and prosecution. Migrant sex workers face not only these indignities, but they risk also being subjected to the full force of the state through deportation. Therefore, they are also constantly threatened by repressive migratory regulations. This further excludes them from accessing legal, social and health support services they require desperately. Many migrants may not identify themselves or be identified as sex workers, but will engage in transactional sexual relations to be able to continue their journeys, or to survive in a host country. Yet, there is a lacunae in the academic scholarship on this issue.

This Research Topic featured in Frontiers in Human Dynamics: Refugees and Conflict, intends to motivate international feminist debates on this important and timely issue. Specifically, we seek submissions of articles that offer sophisticated theoretical contributions as well as empirical analyses. The following themes are of particular interest:

• Rethinking theory on migration, sex workers and governance
• Gender, sex work, migration and marginalization
• The challenges of the criminal law and migrant sex workers
• Migration, sex work, human rights and policy
• Minors, migration and sex work
• Poverty, transnationalism and sex work
• The challenges of social justice for migrant sex workers
• Migration and transactional sex
• Boundaries between transactional sex and sex work
• Sex work, health and well-being of migrants


Keywords: Gender, Migration, Marginalization, Criminal Law, Social Justice, Poverty, Governance, Policy, Health


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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