Online Male Sex Work in Kazakhstan: A Distinct Market?

In: Central Asian Affairs
Hélène Thibault Associate professor of Political Science and International Relations, School of Sciences and Humanities, Nazarbayev University Nur-Sultan Kazakhstan

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In this article, I explore male sex-work in Kazakhstan and show that unlike male sex work around the world, the Kazakhstani market appears to be overwhelmingly heterosexual. Based on a sample of 200 online advertisements, this paper generates original data by providing an overview of male sex work in Kazakhstan’s two largest cities, Almaty and Nur-Sultan. This data is analyzed through a gender lens that acknowledges a shift in local gender roles and expectations and I argue that a desire for sexual emancipation, which is constrained by conservative views surrounding female sexuality explains this particular phenomenon. More precisely, I suggest that women are likely to have discreet sex with anonymous professionals rather than indulge in casual sex with strangers or acquaintances to maintain their reputation. While most gender research in Central Asia focuses on issues of re-traditionalization, this article investigates women’s sexuality and desires in Kazakhstan outside of the re-traditionalization paradigm.

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