Risk and danger among women-who-prostitute in areas where farmworkers predominate

Med Anthropol Q. 2003 Jun;17(2):251-78. doi: 10.1525/maq.2003.17.2.251.


Based on ethnographic research in three agricultural settings in Florida, this article examines one aspect of risk and danger for female sex workers, that of interpersonal violence, while considering women's responses to a shifting sex trade in areas where farmworkers live and work. Sex work in agricultural areas varies from urban sex work. Women eschew pimps, ask for backup from local men entrenched in street settings, and canvass a wide spatial area rather than remained fixed in space. Oscillating between periods of capital-deficiency (nonseason) and capital-intensification (harvest), women respond to increasing risk and danger by building a clientele of regular customers, refusing risky transactions and referrals, and creating a local infrastructure of sanctuary. Some women also construct schemes to relieve men of their money. These men typically are farmworkers, whose vulnerability and image of low risk for HIV expands the potential for risk and danger found in these settings.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Agriculture*
  • Anthropology, Cultural
  • Female
  • Florida
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Rape / psychology
  • Rape / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk*
  • Risk-Taking
  • Rural Population
  • Safety / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Work / psychology*
  • Sex Work / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Identification
  • Theft / psychology
  • Theft / statistics & numerical data
  • Urban Population
  • Violence / psychology
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data