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Russian-speaking women who engage in commercial sex need to constantly monitor their own movements and behaviour to avoid being identified as someone who engages in commercial sex. Identification may lead to problems in crossing the national border, inability to find housing, encounters with the police, and anxieties about their personal information being shared with social services, landlords or future employers.
Russian-speaking women who engage in commercial sex respond to this by being very mobile. This, in turn, increases their earnings, but disrupts their connection to their countries of origin and prevents them from forming strong bonds of belonging in Finland. According to the study, commercial sex presents a problem for the Finnish national project, as it does not harmonize with the claimed national values of gender and social equality.
This creates a particular environment for migrants who engage in commercial sex, as they become perceived as the, de facto, representatives of commercial sex. In this environment, Russian-speaking women engaged in commercial sex oscillate between visibility and invisibility.
As they navigate border-crossings, the rental market, the banking system, and the public and semi-public spaces of clubs and streets, they come face-to-face with surveillance and scrutiny that they must either address or dodge. Consequently, they have to constantly premeditate their interactions with state and non-state agents through avoiding particular public spaces, modifying their own behaviour in private spaces, and enlisting assistance of clients to remain out-of-sight, Diatlova states.
The data collected for this research includes observations conducted in clubs, privates, and an NGO that provides services for sex workers in Southern Finland; interviews with key actors in the field of commercial sex, and interviews with Russian-speaking women engaged in commercial sex in Finland.