For the author, migrants are far from being the desperate and oppressed refugees the media like to suggest. Some maybe, but most have made rational choices and have mustered the resources they need to make complex journeys into a new life.

Within this, many women choose to work in the sex industry. Agustin argues that this ‘catch-all’ title has been hi-jacked by the ‘rescue business’ and become equated with the new craze concern, ‘human trafficking’. She uses extensive research and personal knowledge from around the world to challenge the simplistic terminology that insults and marginalises people (both men and women) who freely choose to offer sex-based services.

Whilst some people do become victims of deceit, coercion or drugs, this is far from universally true. A much larger number have chosen a variety of ways to exploit their personal assets. These range from simply being good listeners and flirts, through erotic dancing (whether strip or lap), to real contact work of varying levels of intimacy, photographically or in ‘real’ life. Many migrants have sensibly identified the ‘West’ as where the money is. They have varying experiences, but their problems are more to do with the wider cultural complexities they encounter than the specifics of their chosen trade.

This may seem obvious, but Agustin is annoyed with the sloppy thinking of the media and the narrow self-interest of the ‘rescue professionals’ and says so passionately. Don’t even ask if she’s a ‘feminist.’ Boxes are not to her taste. Her academic credentials and the breadth of her enquiry are impressive. Her writing is vivid and energetic and liberally illustrated with vox pop witness. The chattering classes should find much in it about which to chatter. Any of us who think we have something in common with the subject of her discourse will be cheered. Agustin herself is a class act who deserves a wider audience.

Title: Sex at the Margins
Author: Laura Maria Agustin
Price: £16.99
Publisher: Zed Books
ISBN: 9781842778609

http://www.eroticreviewmagazine.org/issues/article.asp?article=216