Decriminalisation of sex work in the post-truth era? Strategic storytelling in neo-abolitionist accounts of the New Zealand model

Armstrong, L. (2020). Decriminalisation of sex work in the post-truth era? Strategic storytelling in neo-abolitionist accounts of the New Zealand model. Criminology & Criminal Justice, 174889582091889. doi:10.1177/1748895820918898

In the context of on-going debates regarding sex work laws, in most jurisdictions forms of criminalisation continue to dominate. Despite decades of sex workers calling for the decriminalisation of sex work and collectively organising against repressive laws, decriminalisation remains uncommon. New Zealand was the first full country to decriminalise sex work with the passing of the Prostitution Reform Act in 2003, which aimed to improve occupational health and safety. Several empirical studies have documented positive impacts of this framework. However, despite this, neo-abolitionists persistently describe the New Zealand model as a failed approach. This article examines neo-abolitionist knowledge claims regarding the New Zealand model and in doing so unpacks the strategic stories told about this approach, considering the implications for sex work policy making.

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