Wattis, Louise. ‘Revisiting the Yorkshire Ripper Murders: Interrogating Gender Violence, Sex Work, and Justice’. Feminist Criminology 12, no. 1 (1 January 2017): 3–21. https://doi.org/10.1177/1557085115602960.
Between 1975 and 1980, 13 women, 7 of whom were sex workers, were murdered in the North of England. Aside from the femicide itself, the case was infamous for police failings, misogyny, and victim blaming. The article begins with a discussion of the serial murder of women as a gendered structural phenomenon within the wider context of violence, gender, and arbitrary justice. In support of this, the article revisits the above case to interrogate police reform in England and Wales in the wake of the murders, arguing that despite procedural reform, gendered cultural practices continue to shape justice outcomes for victims of gender violence. In addition, changes to prostitution policy are assessed to highlight how the historical and ongoing Othering and criminalization of street sex workers perpetuates the victimization of this marginalized group of women.
Editorial note: Peter Sutcliffe aka “the Yorkshire Ripper” died (allegendly from Covid-19) last week.
See the report in the Guardian and a historical statement by the English Collective of Prostitutes (1981) “Prostitutes are innocent ok!“
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Hurren, Elizabeth. ‘Dissecting Jack-the-Ripper: An Anatomy of Murder in the Metropolis’. Crime, Histoire & Sociétés / Crime, History & Societies 20, no. 2 (2016): 5–30 (URL: https://journals.openedition.org/chs/1667).
Jack-the-Ripper has been an historical prism for international studies of crime, history and societies. This article re-examines the infamous violent homicides from a new medical perspective. In a cold case review, original evidence of a secret trade in the dead poor is presented, neglected in crime historiography. Trafficking in bodies and body parts to teach human anatomy to medical students was the norm in the East End of London in 1888. The business of anatomy – peopled by body dealers and their accomplices – had the medical infrastructure to provide a deadly disguise for the serial killings. Those that fell from relative to absolute poverty, in death, supplied dissection tables in major teaching hospitals across London. Its social wallpaper could conceivably have camouflaged homicide in the Metropolis.
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Campbell, R., Smith, L., Leacy, B., Ryan, M., & Stoica, B. (2020). Not collateral damage: Trends in violence and hate crimes experienced by sex workers in the Republic of Ireland. Irish Journal of Sociology. https://doi.org/10.1177/0791603520939794
The Republic of Ireland’s new Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 (2017 Act) criminalised sex purchase. Drawing on primary data from reports made by sex workers in Ireland to UglyMugs.ie, we analyse trends in violent and other crimes against sex workers in Republic of Ireland (hereafter Ireland). Examining the four-year period 2015–2019, we highlight the various crimes sex workers experience, including incidents of hate crime. Analysis of UglyMugs.ie data found that crimes (including violent offences) against sex workers increased following the introduction of the new law and continued with low levels of reporting of said crimes to the police. The data suggest that the 2017 Act heightens the risks for sex workers. Here, we advocate an intersectional framework to provide a more nuanced understanding of how sex workers in Ireland experience violent and other hate crimes. We suggest that considering the international research evidence, the most conducive framework in which to reduce violence against sex workers is that of full decriminalisation. But as others have pointed out that legal reform needs to be in tandem with other policies and a refocusing of police resources on sex worker safety, better enabling reporting and access to justice.
Jean Allain, “No Effective Trafficking Definition Exists: Domestic Implementation of the Palermo Protocol”. 7 Alb. Govt. L. Rev. 112 (2014), 111.
This Article considers the overall regime established by the 2000 Palermo Protocol to demonstrate the manner in which the legal order of States. In so doing, and with special reference to the definition of trafficking, it shows the limited ability of States to actually carry out their avowed wish to suppress the trafficking in persons. Because their jurisdiction over what is termed ‘trafficking’ is different, the ability for the origin, transit, and/or destination countries to ‘join-up’ is rendered unworkable by, for instance, extradition treaties that require crimes to be common to both jurisdictions, or the application of extraterritorial jurisdiction when what is deemed a crime in one jurisdiction is not so in another. Thus, in a very short period of time, legislators around the world have created, under the banner of ‘trafficking,’ an international regime which, through its implementation in the domestic sphere, has fractured its potential effectiveness.
Full article available here.
Elizabeth Bernstein, “Militarized Humanitarianism Meets Carceral Feminism: The Politics of Sex, Rights, and Freedom in Contemporary Antitrafficking Campaigns,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 36, no. 1 (Autumn 2010): 45-71.
Over the past decade, abolitionist feminist and evangelical Christian activists have directed increasing attention toward the “traffic in women” as a dangerous manifestation of global gender inequalities. Despite renowned disagreements around the politics of sex and gender, these groups have come together to advocate for harsher penalties against traffickers, prostitutes’ customers, and nations deemed to be taking insufficient steps to stem the flow of trafficked women. In this essay, I argue that what has served to unite this coalition of “strange bedfellows” is not simply an underlying commitment to conservative ideals of sexuality, as previous commentators have offered, but an equally significant commitment to carceral paradigms of justice and to militarized humanitarianism as the preeminent mode of engagement by the state. I draw upon my ongoing ethnographic research with feminist and evangelical antitrafficking movement leaders to argue that the alliance that has been so efficacious in framing contemporary antitrafficking politics is the product of two historically unique and intersecting trends: a rightward shift on the part of many mainstream feminists and other secular liberals away from a redistributive model of justice and toward a politics of incarceration, coincident with a leftward sweep on the part of many younger evangelicals toward a globally oriented social justice theology. In the final section of this essay, I consider the resilience of these trends given a newly installed and more progressive Obama administration, positing that they are likely to continue even as the terrain of militarized humanitarian action shifts in accordance with new sets of geopolitical interests.
Full text available here.
The regulation of sex work continues to be a divisive topic in England and internationally. Policies governing the policing of the sex industry in England are continually revised and debated, but are seldom grounded in empirical evidence of sex workers’ experiences. Based on 49 qualitative interviews with sex workers in England, this article finds that indoor sex workers had far more positive experiences with the police than outdoor sex workers. Despite this difference, both indoor and outdoor sex workers perceive their interactions with the police through the lens of their stigmatized status as sex workers and do not expect respectful treatment by the police. This article presents compelling evidence that an enforcement-led approach to policing creates insuperable barriers to the success of protective policing.
This article uses Jonathan Simon’s concept of ‘governing through crime’ as a framework to argue that the state has framed sex work, and its surrounding problems, as issues of crime. There has been a privileging and proliferation of criminal justice responses to sex work in England and Wales, at the expense of more social or welfare-based responses and at the expense of creating safer environments for sex workers to work. Criminal law is used to manage and control sex work, to reinforce other policies, such as immigration and border control, and to appear to be doing something about the ‘problem’ of sex work without providing rights to sex workers. By framing sex work as an issue of crime, with sex workers being both the perpetrators of crime and the potential victims of exploitative crime, the state is able to legitimise its actions against sex workers, while ignoring the harm done to sex workers by the state.
Ola Florin, “A Particular Kind of Violence: Swedish Social Policy Puzzles of a Multipurpose Criminal Law” Sexuality Research and Social Policy, September 2012, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 269-278
This article explores the policy underpinning Sweden’s 1999 ban on purchases of sexual services with a focus on the social and health service sectors and their role vis-à-vis people who sell sex. It argues that the rationale behind the ban is difficult to reconcile with legislation and practices beyond the merit of criminal justice. While an understanding of prostitution as “men’s violence against women” may serve symbolic functions at central policy level, it can hardly guide local implementation without conflicting with core social policy principles. The article concludes that there is a need to address the agency of people who sell sex, since denying or minimizing such agency may be counterproductive to the policy’s own objectives.
Full text available here.
Rachel Lovell and Ann Jordan, “Do John Schools Really Decrease Recidivism? A methodological critique of an evaluation of the San Francisco First Offender Prostitution Program”. Published online, July 2012
A growing number of governments are creating “john schools” in the belief that providing men with information about prostitution will stop them from buying sex, which will in turn stop prostitution and trafficking. John schools typically offer men arrested for soliciting paid sex the opportunity (for a fee) to attend lectures by health experts, law enforcement and former sex workers in exchange for cleared arrest records if they are not re-arrested within a certain period of time. A 2008 examination of the San Francisco john school, “Final Report on the Evaluation of the First Offender Prostitution Program,” claims to be the first study to prove that attending a john school leads to a lower rate of recidivism or re-arrest (Shively et al.). Despite its claims, the report offers no reliable evidence that the john school classes reduce the rate of re-arrests.
This paper analyzes the methodology and data used in the San Francisco study and concludes that serious flaws in the research design led the researchers to claim a large drop in re-arrest rates that, in fact, occurred before the john school was implemented.
Full text available here.