PROS: The Programme for the Reform of the Law on Soliciting, 1976–1982

Connell, Kieran. ‘PROS: The Programme for the Reform of the Law on Soliciting, 1976–1982’. Twentieth Century British History. November 2019. https://doi.org/10.1093/tcbh/hwz032.

Abstract

In the late 1970s, a campaign was mounted to reform the legal landscape faced by sex workers, which had remained unaltered since a series of recommendations made in the Wolfenden Report were implemented by the government two decades earlier. While Wolfenden is commonly associated with the arrival of Britain’s ‘permissive’ 1960s, when it came to the issue of prostitution, it helped usher in even more restrictive conditions for sex workers. This article looks at attempts to challenge this status quo by focusing on the Programme for the Reform of the Law on Soliciting (PROS), which was founded in Birmingham in 1976 and became one of the most visible groups advocating for a change in the law. Its activities culminated with the 1982 Criminal Justice Act, which ostensibly abandoned the policy of imprisoning prostitutes on soliciting offences. The case of PROS, I argue, offers a further reminder of the afterlife of the liberalizing ethos associated with the 1960s. Moreover, it provides a different way of engaging with a historical conjuncture more commonly associated with themes such as rising individualism, the fragmentation of left-wing activism, and the arrival of Thatcherism.

Write a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: