Advertisement

The Problem with Sex Work Policies

  • Gillian AbelEmail author
Commentary

Sex work is constructed in many different ways in society, whether it be as morally repugnant, an outcome of patriarchal oppression, an inevitable result of social inequalities, or as work freely chosen. Because of these very polarized ideas of what sex work is, policy in this area is hotly debated around the world and I commend Benoit, Smith, Jansson, Healey, and Magnuson (2018) for their Target Article synthesizing different arguments on perspectives and consequent policies. I think it is an excellent starting point for those who are new to the field and looking at the difficult terrain within which sex workers, activists, researchers, and policy-makers operate.

Benoit et al. (2018) very interestingly argue that policy responses to sex work are motivated by two different perspectives on social inequalities. I agree with them in that it is in the name of addressing gender inequalities that repressive policy responses are formulated. However, I do not see that restrictive and...

Notes

References

  1. Abel, G. (2014). A decade of decriminalization: Sex work ‘down under’ but not underground. Criminology and Criminal Justice, 14(5), 580–592.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1748895814523024.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abel, G. (2017). In search of a free and fair society: The regulation of sex work in New Zealand. In E. Ward & G. Wylie (Eds.), Feminism, prostitution and the state (pp. 140–154). Oxon, UK: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Abel, G. (2018). Decriminalisation and social justice: A public health perspective on sex work. In S. Fitzgerald & K. McGarry (Eds.), Realising justice for sex workers: An agenda for change (pp. 123–140). London: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  4. Abel, G., Fitzgerald, L., Healy, C., & Taylor, A. (Eds.). (2010). Taking the crime out of sex work: New Zealand sex workers’ fight for decriminalisation. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.Google Scholar
  5. Abel, G., & Roguski, M. (2018). Migrant sex workers in New Zealand: Report for MBIE. Retrieved from Christchurch.Google Scholar
  6. Armstrong, L. (2010). Out of the shadows (and into a bit of light): Decriminalisation, human rights and street-based sex work in New Zealand. In K. Hardy, S. Kingston, & T. Sanders (Eds.), New sociologies of sex work (pp. 39–58). Surrey, UK: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  7. Armstrong, L. (2014). Screening clients in a decriminalised street-based sex industry: Insights into the experiences of New Zealand sex workers. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 7(2), 207–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Armstrong, L. (2018). New Zealand. In Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (Ed.), Sex workers organising for change: Self-representation, community mobilisation, and working conditions (pp. 72–107). Bangkok: GAATW.Google Scholar
  9. Barry, K. (1995). The prostitution of sexuality: The global exploitation of women. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Benoit, C., Smith, M., Jansson, M., Healey, P., & Magnuson, D. (2018). “The prostitution problem”: Claims, evidence, and policy outcomes. Archives of Sexual Behavior.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-018-1276-6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Black, N. (2001). Evidence based policy: Proceed with care: Research must be taken seriously. British Medical Journal, 323(7307), 275–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Donald, A. (2001). Comment: Research must be taken seriously. British Medical Journal, 323(7307), 278–279.Google Scholar
  13. Farley, M. (2004). “Bad for the body, bad for the heart”: Prostitution harms women even if legalized or decriminalized. Violence Against Women, 10(10), 1087–1125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fraser, N. (2004). Recognition as justice? A proposal for avoiding philosophical schizophrenia. In S. Cheng (Ed.), Law, justice and power: Between reason and will (pp. 139–157). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Fraser, N. (2009). Social justice in the age of identity politics: Redistribution, recognition, and participation. In G. Henderson & M. Waterstone (Eds.), Geographic thought: A praxis perspective (pp. 72–90). Oxon, UK: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. Freiberg, A., & Carson, W. (2010). The limits to evidence-based policy: Evidence, emotion and criminal justice 1. Australian Journal of Public Administration, 69(2), 152–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Green, L. W. (2008). Making research relevant: If it is an evidence-based practice, where’s the practice-based evidence? Family Practice, 25(suppl_1), i20–i24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jeffrey, L., & Sullivan, B. (2009). Canadian sex work policy for the 21st century: Enhancing rights and safety, lessons from Australia. Canadian Political Science Review, 3(1), 57–76.Google Scholar
  19. Jeffreys, S. (1997). The idea of prostitution. Melbourne, Australia: Spinifex Press.Google Scholar
  20. Kilvington, J., Day, S., & Ward, H. (2001). Prostitution policy in Europe: A time of change? Feminist Review, 67, 78–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Krusi, A., Pacey, K., Bird, L., Taylor, C., Chettiar, J., Allan, S., … Shannon, K. (2014). Criminalisation of clients: Reproducing vulnerabilities for violence and poor health among street-based sex workers in Canada—A qualitative study. BMJ Open, 4, e005191.  https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005191.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. Kulick, D. (2003). Sex in the new Europe: The criminalization of clients and Swedish fear of penetration. Anthropological Theory, 3(2), 199–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kulick, D. (2005). Swedish model. Paper presented at the Beijing Plus Ten Meeting, Beijing. http://www.salli.org/muistio/kulick.html.
  24. Levy, J., & Jakobssen, P. (2014). Sweden’s abolitionist discourse and law: Effects on the dynamics of Swedish sex work and on the lives of Sweden’s sex workers. Criminology and Criminal Justice, 14(5), 593–607.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Newman, J. (2017). Deconstructing the debate over evidence-based policy. Critical Policy Studies, 11(2), 211–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Östergren, P. (2017). From zero-tolerance to full integration: Rethinking prostitution policies. Retrieved from http://www.demandat.eu/publications/european-policy-brief-preventing-exploitation-and-trafficking-sex-work-sector.
  27. Pitcher, J. (2015). Sex work and modes of self-employment in the informal economy: Diverse business practices and constraints to effective working. Social Policy and Society, 14(1), 113–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Prostitution Law Review Committee. (2008). Report of the Prostitution Law Review Committee on the Operation of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003. Retrieved from Wellington: http://www.justice.govt.nz/policy/commercial-property-and-regulatory/prostitution/prostitution-law-review-committee/publications/plrc-report/report-of-the-prostitution-law-review-committee-on-the-operation-of-the-prostitution-reform-act-2003.
  29. Sanders, T., O’Neill, M., & Pitcher, J. (2018). Prostitution: Sex work, policy and politics. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  30. Shaver, F. (2005). Sex work research: Methodological and ethical challenges. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 20(3), 296–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sullivan, B. (2010). When (some) prostitution is legal: The impact of law reform on sex work in Australia. Journal of Law and Society, 37(1), 85–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Wagenaar, H. (2017). Why prostitution policy (usually) fails and what to do about it? Social Sciences in Health, 6(2), 43.  https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci6020043.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Wagenaar, H., & Altink, S. (2012). Prostitution as morality politics or why it is exceedingly difficult to design and sustain effective prostitution policy. Sexuality Research & Social Policy, 9, 279–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wagenaar, H., Amesberger, H., & Altink, S. (2017). Designing prostitution policy: Intention and reality in regulating the sex trade. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.Google Scholar
  35. Weitzer, R. (2005). Flawed theory and method in studies of prostitution. Violence Against Women, 11(7), 934–949.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Population HealthUniversity of Otago, ChristchurchChristchurchNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations