This article analyzes recent developments in U.S. anti-sex trafficking rhetoric and practices. In particular, it traces how pre-9/11 abolitionist legal frameworks have been redeployed in the context of regime change from the Clinton to Bush administrations. In the current political context, combating the traffic in women has become a common denominator political issue, uniting people across the political and religious spectrum against a seemingly indisputable act of oppression and exploitation. However, this essay argues that feminists should be the first to interrogate and critique the premises underlying many claims about global sex trafficking, as well as recent U.S.-based efforts to rescue prostitutes. It places the current raid-and-rehabilitation method of curbing sex trafficking within the broader context of Bush administration and conservative religious approaches to dealing with gender and sexuality on the international scene.
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Author: Aziza Ahmed
How the HIV/AIDS movement has impacted the sex worker rights movement. Special focus on the Anti-Prostitution Pledge. Intersections with various feminist perspectives on sex work.
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Sex Work and Women’s Movements
Author: Svati P. Shah
CREA commissioned Svati P. Shah to write this paper as a resource for a meeting entitled ‘Ain’t I A Woman? A Global Dialogue between the Sex Workers’ Rights Movement and the Stop Violence against Women Movement’ held from 12-14 March 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand. This paper discusses key issues in the relationship between sex workers’ and women’s movements. The paper begins by describing the history of the relationship between these two movements, and takes U.S.A. and India as its examples. The paper discusses the history of women’s movements and sex workers’ movements, and where and how they intersected, or not. It goes on to discuss the contemporary context, including the status of alliances and dialogue between women’s movements and sex workers’ movements, the ways that HIV/AIDS have structured this relationship, and the question of agency. Svati P. Shah is an Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
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A single problem with a single answer: The institutional sources of framing in contemporary French prostitution policy debates (2002-2012)
Author: Emily St. Denny, University of Sterling (UK)
Presented at the International Conference on Public Policy (June 26-28, 2013)
Despite the primacy of the abolitionist policy regime, adopted in 1960 and which is centred on concerns about the well-being of “victims” of prostitution, contemporary French prostitution policy has sustained a variety of inconsistent policies. Alone, these reforms have not threatened the established abolitionist regime. Together, though, they amount to a cumulative transformation of what French abolitionism stands for. This challenges traditional conceptions of significant institutional and paradigmatic change as predicated on critical junctures. This paper therefore argues that understanding the manner in which policy actors, seeking to further their preferred policy options, garner legitimacy and support for their project within established institutional frameworks requires analysing the interplay between the constraining effect of institutions and the creative and constituting effect of strategic framing. Presenting evidence from the preliminary process tracing of recent two policy reform projects, this paper consequently suggests that framing prostitution policy proposals as compliant with the dominant ideational framework is necessary but insufficient to guarantee reform success. Drawing on ideational and institutional policy theory, the paper concludes that, by virtue of the continuously (re)constructed and negotiated nature of dominant ideational frameworks, the abolitionist paradigm is rendered capable of housing an inconsistent variety of policies through the strategic framing of policy options.
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Flawed Theory and Method in Studies of Prostitution
Author: Ronald Weitzer
In no areaof the social sciences has ideology contaminated knowledge more pervasively than in writings on the sex industry. Too often in this area, the canons of scientific inquiry are suspended
and research deliberately skewed to serve a particular political agenda. Much of this work has been done by writers who regard the sex industry as a despicable institution and who are active in campaigns to abolish it.
In this commentary, I examine several theoretical and methodological flaws in this literature, both generally and with regard to three recent articles in Violence Against Women. The articles in
question are by Jody Raphael and Deborah Shapiro (2004), Melissa Farley (2004), and Janice Raymond (2004). At least two of the authors (Farley and Raymond) are activists involved in the
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Regulating Prostitution: Social Inclusion, Responsibilization and the Politics of Prostitution Reform
Authors: Jane Scoular and Maggie O’Neill
Following Matthews ’ (2005) recent examination of prostitution’s changing regulatory framework,we offer a critical account of the move from ‘ enforcement ’ (punishment) to ‘ multi-agency ’ (regula- tory) responses as, in part, a consequence of new forms of governance. We focus on the increasing salience of exiting — a move favoured by Matthews as signalling a renewed welfare approach, but one which, when viewed in the wider context of ‘progressive governance ,’ offers insight into New Labour’s attempt to increase social control under the rhetoric of inclusion, through techniques of risk and responsibilization. By exploring the moral and political components of these techniques, we demonstrate how they operate to privilege and exclude certain forms of citizenship, augmenting the on-going hegemonic moral and political regulation of sex workers.
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Decriminalisation: A harm minimisation and human rights approach to regulating sex work.
Author: Gillian Abel, PhD 2010
Ph.D. Thesis, University of Otago, Public Health Research
This thesis takes a community-based participatory approach, using mixed methods to examine the impact of the decriminalisation of sex work in New Zealand through the lens of a public health discourse of harm minimisation. The key question addressed in this thesis is whether decriminalisation has minimised the harms experienced by sex workers. Rather than taking a narrow view of harm minimisation and looking merely at the practices of sex workers, I have taken a more holistic stance, taking into account structural social issues which contribute to the health and wellbeing of sex workers. Data were collected through a survey of 772 sex workers and in-depth interviews with 58 sex workers in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Napier and Nelson. Estimates were done of the number of sex workers in these cities which show little change post-decriminalisation compared to estimates done prior to decriminalisation. There has been some change in the shape of the industry with more people working privately in the suburbs and fewer in the brothels and escort agencies but little change in size of the street-based sector. Such minimal change in the size of the sex industry is not surprising as the underlying motivations for working in this industry have not changed in a decriminalised environment. As this thesis demonstrates, structural factors (such as economic climate, employment opportunities, welfare, housing and sickness benefits) are associated with the entry into sex work rather than the way the industry is regulated.