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Tag Archives: Challenges to anti-prostitution laws

Petra Östergren (2017): From Zero-Tolerance to Full Integration: Rethinking Prostitution Policies. DemandAT Working Paper No. 10.
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Abstract
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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.

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Skilbrei, May-Len. „Assessing the Power of Prostitution Policies to Shift Markets, Attitudes, and Ideologies“. Annual Review of Criminology 2 1 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-criminol-011518-024623..
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Since the late 1990s, many countries have been debating what prostitution policies to apply, and, particularly in Europe, several have changed the overall approach to the phenomenon and the people involved. Prostitution is more than ever before firmly placed on policy agendas as a topic related to gender equality and globalization. Furthermore, it is seen in context with issues relating to organized crime, health, and gentrification. In both policy debates and the academic discourse, particular ways of regulating prostitution are treated as models and a central discussion is which model among these works best. In this article, I argue that this search for a best practice of prostitution policy that can be transferred to and work similarly in a new jurisdiction builds on a lack of understanding of the importance of context and implementation. How policies work depends on, among other factors, aims, implementation structures, and characteristics of local prostitution markets. But I present a broad spectrum of research to clarify what should be taken into consideration when assessing policies’ abilities to achieve diverse goals. I argue that a fundamental problem in both prostitution policy debates and scholarship is that the arguments over prostitution policies have become too detached from the many and differing contexts in which these policies operate and I propose a way forward for resear

In this article, we present and discuss the intended and unintended effects of the Swedish Sex Purchase Act, which criminalises the purchase of sex within a context where the sale of sex is legal. Whether or not this means of regulating prostitution is successful, and whether it has negative consequences for people who sell sex, are important questions in international policy and academic debates. This article builds on a scoping study aimed at identifying relevant sources of information as to the consequences of the Swedish Sex Purchase Act, then summarising and discussing these findings. The article offers policy makers and scholars a comprehensive presentation of the evidence and a discussion of the methodological, political and theoretical challenges arising from this.

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This article describes and discusses the results of two comparative studies of prostitution policy in Europe that are complementary in their design and methodology. One is a comparison of 21 countries using a most different systems design; the other an in-depth comparison of Austria and The Netherlands, using a most similar systems design. The two studies found a remarkable continuity in the inherent approach to the regulation of prostitution and its effects. Despite differences in political regime, administrative organization, and national cultures, since the middle of the 19th century, the purpose of prostitution policy has been to impose strict controls on sex workers and to a lesser extent their work sites. The effects of this approach have been disappointing: despite rhetorical claims to the contrary the control of sex workers has no discernable effect on the prevalence of prostitution in society. The effects of policies aimed at control are mostly negative in that they corrode the human and labor rights of sex workers. The article discusses several challenges to the regulation of prostitution (such as its deeply moral nature and the lack of precise and reliable data) as well a number of other important outcomes (such as the importance of local policy implementation for the effects of regulation). The article concludes with the empirically substantiated suggestion that a form of collaborative governance in which sex worker advocacy organizations participate in the design and implementation of prostitution policy offers real prospects for an effective and humane prostitution policy.

Full article available here. 

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The Legal Aid Society’s Exploitation Intervention Project (EIP) represents most individuals prosecuted for violating New York State prostitution laws. EIP also represents survivors of trafficking into prostitution and works to clear charges from their criminal records if they were a result of having been trafficked. Urban researchers gathered data from both groups of EIP clients to describe who is facing arrest in New York City for prostitution and who has faced arrest and prosecution for prostitution in the past. This study explores the background and needs of EIP clients, in addition to the challenges these clients face within the criminal legal system.

Full report available here.

Hynson, Rachel. “Count, Capture, and Reeducate”: The Campaign to Rehabilitate Cuba’s Female Sex Workers, 1959–1966, in: Journal of the History of Sexuality 24, 1, January 2015
pp. 125-153

In 1964 Cuba’s fledgling movie industry collaborated with Soviet filmmakers to create Soy Cuba (I am Cuba), a dizzying expressionist tale of four Cubans whose problems were ameliorated by the revolution. One vignette features María, a young prostitute abandoned by her boyfriend after he finds her entertaining a US businessman.1 The film insinuates that sex workers, once victims of US imperialism and capitalism, were rescued and reeducated by the government campaign against prostitution.2 However, Soy Cuba received a cool reception on the island. Moviegoers and critics rejected the dream-like aesthetic of the film and demanded more “realistic” depictions of their revolution.3 This perceived disconnect between cinematic representation and revolutionary reality parallels the disjuncture between the official discourse on prostitution and the complex experiences of female sex workers in early revolutionary Cuba. [End Page 125]

The Cuban government and the standard historical accounts both describe the campaign to rehabilitate prostitutes as one of the great successes of the revolution, a monolithic movement that supposedly originated at the top and was implemented uniformly across the island.4 But this story obscures the lived experiences of state officials, provincial reformers, and sex workers who participated in a campaign that was complex, diverse, and conflictive. The campaign officially lasted from 1959 to 1965, during which time officials in the Department of Social Ills (Departamento de Lacras Sociales) at the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) decided policies, as did regional government officials and members of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs), and other state organizations. Policies to combat sex work were initiated in all of the country’s six provinces, and while some provincial reformers acted on their own initiative, efforts at reeducation (reeducación) ultimately complemented the rehabilitation efforts of high-level government agents.

This article examines the revolutionaries’ initial attempts to rehabilitate the island’s thirty to forty thousand sex workers, paying special attention to the rhetoric and strategies deployed by reformers outside of the capital city of Havana.5 It argues that members from groups such as the FMC and National Revolutionary Police (PNR) helped initiate the antiprostitution campaign, often operating without official interference until 1962, when federal officials assumed greater control over the campaign and when penal work farms became a tool of reform. During the first six years of the revolution, official discourse transitioned from viewing sex workers as victims to categorizing them as counterrevolutionaries. Key to this analysis are the methods used to identify prostitutes (prostitutas). Rather than seeking confirmation that women exchanged sex for money, reformers identified sex workers according to their attire, behavior, race, place of residence, and sexual partners. I also demonstrate that the revolutionary campaign adopted a broad and flexible definition of prostituta, one that allowed government officials to target the behavior of all Cuban women, not merely that of those who identified as sex workers.

Full article available here. 

 

Hamish Stewart. The Constitutionality of the New Sex Work LawAlberta Law Review (ALR) 54(1):69-88.

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In this article, the author considers the constitutionality of Canada’s new law on prostitution: Bill C-36. When the new sex work law was first introduced into Parliament, a number of advocacy groups and commentators argued that it was unconstitutional because of its failure to respond to the concerns raised in Bedford v. Canada, a case where the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the old sex work law on the ground that its negative impact on sex workers’ security of the person outweighed its nuisance abatement objective. This author agrees that Bill C-36 may be unconstitutional, but for a different reason. The new sex work law adheres to the constitutional norms invoked in Bedford by making use of two novel policy objectives: discouraging sex work and reducing the danger of sex work to sex workers. In practice, however, these objectives are likely to conflict with one another. As a result, Bill C-36 is an incoherent piece of legislation that may be unconstitutional for creating arbitrary and grossly disproportionate effects on the security of the person of sex workers.