Sex work, gender and developman in Vanuatu
Kate Burry

The number of people engaging in sex work is increasing in the South Pacific, and the same is true in the context of Vanuatu (an archipelago nation located to the east of Australia) due to the demands of urbanisation alongside underemployment. To understand the experiences of people exchanging sexual acts for money and other goods in urbanising and developing settings, qualitative research was undertaken in Luganville, a rapidly developing town on the northern island of Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu. Those interviewed were male and female sex workers, „middle men,‟ who manage sexual transactions, a client and an ex-boyfriend of a local sex worker. Discussions focused on the technicalities of Luganville‟s sex industry, as well as sex workers‟ sexual and reproductive health and rights, and the extent to which sex workers are able to exercise agency during interactions with clients. Expanding on Marshall Sahlin‟s (2005) concept of developman, I analyse these interviews through the lens of gender and developmanin Vanuatu; that is, the ways in which gender underpins how ni-Vanuatu have understood, adopted, moulded, and rejected that which is introduced, and who is able to arbitrate, control, and even bestride these changes. I argue that analysing sex work through the lens of gender and developman reveals the specific challenges to ni-Vanuatu sex workers exercising agency, as well as modern configurations of gender in Vanuatu in general.

Full Text: PDF      DOI: 10.15640/ijgws.v7n2p4