Over the past two decades there has been a growing body of academic and community-based literature on sex workers’ lives and work. However, the discourses, laws, and policies that impact sex workers are continually changing, and critical perspectives are constantly needed. Therefore, this Special Issue of the Anti-Trafficking Review highlights some of the current achievements of – and challenges faced by – the global sex worker rights movement.
Contributors examine the ways in which organising and collectivisation have enabled sex workers to speak up for themselves and tell their own stories, claim their human, social, and labour rights, resist stigma and punitive laws and policies, and provide mutual and peer-based support. The contexts in focus include Canada, Latin America and Caribbean, United States, France, South Africa, India, Thailand and the Philippines.
The local regulation of prostitution in Germany is a contested area of urban politics. In this issue area, morality claims intersect with the material interests of home- and landowners and the security demands of ‘ordinary’ citizens. The Prostitution Law of 2001 has liberalized the legal framework: the legislation ‘normalized’ sex work, triggering the re-definition of urban strategies to regulate prostitution. This article analyses the conflict dynamics and the framing of conflicts over regulations in four German cities. It identifies the main actors, coalition-building processes and the framing of conflicts, and links these elements to the resulting policies. With regard to theory, it explores the relevance of classical explanatory approaches to local governance such as party politics, urban growth coalitions, political culture and bureaucratic politics to the value-laden issue of prostitution. It thereby contributes to the growing academic interest in the nature of morality policies and the question of the specific conditions under which prostitution is framed as a moral issue or as a ‘normal’ subject within urban politics.
Petra Östergren (2017): From Zero-Tolerance to Full Integration: Rethinking Prostitution Policies. DemandAT Working Paper No. 10.
This tenth DemandAT working paper by Petra Östergren fom Lund University develops a typology for prostitution policy regimes. Based on an inductive methodological approach, it presents a typology of three general prostitution policy models (or regimes), as repressive, restrictive or integrative. The intention of such a tripartite typology is that it can serve as a tool for assessing, evaluating and comparing prostitution policies, even in cases where they seem to contain contradictory or incoherent elements. Besides using the prostitution policy typology for analytical purposes, it can also serve as a tool for developing context-sensitive measures against violence, exploitation and trafficking in human beings in the sex work sector.
Between 1360 and 1460 the Venetian government established a system of legalized prostitution under the supervision of government officials and confined, in theory, to a limited area of the city. The authorities also attempted to concentrate the management of licit brothels in the hands of women, who thereby emerged as the effective entrepreneurs of the sex trade. This article describes the organization of Venetian prostitution in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries and the relations among government officials, brothel-keepers, and prostitutes. It illustrates the mechanisms of debt and credit used in the sex trade, which often kept the prostitutes subservient to the brothel-keepers and to their other creditors. An effort is made to assess the degree to which sex workers might become integrated into local society and to suggest the general trends in Venetian policy toward prostitution into the sixteenth century.
Baker, Carrie N. Racialized Rescue Narratives in Public Discourses on Youth Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the United States. Politics & Gender: 1–28. doi:10.1017/S1743923X18000661.
This article presents an analysis of how activists, politicians, and the media framed youth involvement in the sex trade during the 1970s, the 1990s, and the 2000s in the United States. Across these periods of public concern about the issue, similar framing has recurred that has drawn upon gendered and racialized notions of victimization and perpetration. This frame has successfully brought attention to this issue by exploiting public anxieties at historical moments when social change was threatening white male dominance. Using intersectional feminist theory, I argue that mainstream rhetoric opposing the youth sex trade worked largely within neoliberal logics, ignoring histories of dispossession and structural violence and reinforcing individualistic notions of personhood and normative ideas about subjectivity and agency. As part of the ongoing project of racial and gender formation in US society, this discourse has shored up neoliberal governance, particularly the build-up of the prison industrial complex, and it has obscured the state’s failure to address the myriad social problems that make youth vulnerable to the sex trade.
I connect commodification arguments to an empirical literature, present a mechanism by which commodification may occur, and show how this may restrict the range of goods and services that are subject to commodification, therefore having implications for the use of commodification arguments in political theory. Commodification arguments assert that some people’s trading a good or service can debase it for third parties. They consist of a normative premise, a theory of value, and an empirical premise, a mechanism whereby some people’s market exchange affects how goods can be valued by others. Hence, their soundness depends on the existence of a suitable candidate mechanism for the empirical premise. The ‘motivation crowding effect’ has been cited as the empirical base of commodification. I show why the main explanations of motivation crowding – signaling and over-justification – do not provide mechanisms that could underpin the empirical premise. In doing this, I reveal some requirements on any candidate mechanism. I present a third explanation of motivation crowding, based on the crowding out of frames, and show how it fulfills the requirements. With a mechanism in hand, I explore the type of goods and services to which commodification arguments are applicable. The mechanism enables markets to break down ‘shared valuations’, which is a subset of the valuations that proponents of commodification arguments are concerned with. Further, it can only break down relatively fragile shared understandings and therefore, I suggest, it cannot support a commodification argument regarding the sale of sexual services.