Understanding transactional sex in situations of humanitarian crises and reforming institutional responses

Research output: Memorandum/expositionResearch proposal


Transactional sex – the exchange of sex for cash, goods, services, commodities or privileges - is widely prevalent in contexts of conflict and disaster, and takes a variety of forms, from the voluntary to the implicitly coercive, and from sex work to sugar daddy relations or occasional transactions. Transactional sex can help people survive or improve their situation but is also a precarious and risky strategy rooted in unequal power relations. The understanding of transactional sex in contexts of humanitarian crisis is hampered by biases and taboos that may (re)produce or even aggravate structural violence against the people involved.

Employing a large research network, the research will be grounded in country-based studies in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia and Pakistan. It will answer the following questions:
• What are the motivations for, practices, and consequences of transactional sex in humanitarian crises situations based on the perspectives of people engaging in it?
• How do these relate (or not) to views and assumptions embedded in humanitarian and policy responses to transactional sex in crisis situations?
• How can the needs and problems of people engaged in transactional sex be more effectively addressed?

The project will use mixed methods and particularly explore the use of participatory methodology with people involved in transactional sex as well as actors responsible for protection and service delivery.

The project will yield cross-disciplinary impact in addressing these largely ignored questions. Societal impact will be achieved through networked interaction around health, social and humanitarian policies in the case study countries and globally.
Original languageEnglish
ApplicantNederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2021

Research programs



Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding transactional sex in situations of humanitarian crises and reforming institutional responses'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this