torstai 22. toukokuuta 2014

About Sex Work, Asylum-seekers and Neoliberalism on the same day

On Tuesday in the International Summer School, we concentrate on some actual social problems in Europe. According to Dr. Johanna Hefel´s lecture sex work is not just the oldest profession in the world but a very big business, too. Sex work is illegal and punishable by law in some countries for example in Albania and Romania. In many others, like in Finland, sex work is legal, but regulated.  There is a huge diversity in sex work. At the movies, like Pretty Woman, we can see one aspect of the phenomenon. Other aspects are not so pretty. Worldwide there are 4.5 million people in the world and about 70 000 - 140 000 people in Europe who are forced sexual exploitation. The actual and global problem in sex work is human trafficking, which is one kind of slavery. Human trafficking is defined as a crime. Nowadays everyday life is filled by sexuality.  Still attitudes towards sex work are diverse. Like sex work, also attitudes toward sex work have different cultural and social backgrounds in different countries. In Finland sex work is hidden. We don´t speak about it, because it’s so sensitive a subject. In summer school, we discussed if sex work is an individual or a social problem? In our view it is a social problem, because the structures of society should be preventing from being exploited to sex work.

In the Austrian student panel, we became aware of another big social problem in Europe. The problem is the situation of asylum-seekers. The amount of asylum seekers has rise rapidly in Europe, especially in Lampedusa in Italy and in Melilla in Spain. The problem is so huge that Italy and Spain can´t handle it by themselves. To Lampedusa asylum-seekers come in old boats and they are often brought back to the sea. Many of them are drowned and dead. How can we solve this social problem? The best way to help asylum-seekers is to help them in their own country. Another way is to let them come to Europe and organize basic living, housing, health services. Most of all they need mental support to survive traumatic experiences, which they have had.

Dr. Christian Stark told us about neoliberalism and how it influences on social work. Including this ideology we can’t afford the welfare state any longer. This could mean the economization of social work. In that case the weak and powerless people in need are replaced by profitable customers. Then competition will dominate instead of solidarity.

Kirsti Pöyliö & Eveliina Ojaniemi, students from University of Lapland

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