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Tag Archives: Criminalization and Police

Rosentel, Kris, Charlie M. Fuller, Shannon M. E. Bowers, Amy L. Moore, and Brandon J. Hill. ‘Police Enforcement of Sex Work Criminalization Laws in an “End Demand” City: The Persistence of Quality-of-Life Policing and Seller Arrests’. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 26 April 2021. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-020-01910-9.

Abstract

The purported goals of commercial sex work criminalization policies in the United States have shifted over the past two decades as local jurisdictions have adopted End Demand reforms. These reforms aim to refocus arrest from individuals who sell sexual services to buyers and facilitators, representing a departure from the quality-of-life, nuisance-focused approach of the late twentieth century. This article presents a case study examining enforcement of commercial sex laws in Chicago, a city that has been heralded as a leader in End Demand reforms. Our case study utilized annualized arrest statistics from 1998 to 2017 and individual arrest reports (n = 575) from 2015 to 2017. Commercial sex arrests by the Chicago Police Department have declined substantially over the past two decades, falling 98.4% from its peak. However, our analysis suggests that sellers of sexual services continue to face the heaviest burden of arrest (80.5%) and officers generally continue to approach commercial sex as a quality-of-life issue. We argue that this divergence between the goals and implementation of End Demand are the result of three institutional factors: street-level bureaucracy, logics of spatial governmentality, and participatory security. Our results suggest that the ideals of End Demand may be incompatible with the institutional realties of urban policing.

Hoefinger, Heidi, Jennifer Musto, PG Macioti, Anne E Fehrenbacher, Nicola Mai, Calum Bennachie, Calogero Giametta (2020) Community-Based Responses to Negative Health Impacts of Sexual Humanitarian Anti-Trafficking Policies and the Criminalization of Sex Work and Migration in the US, Social Sciences, Special Issue: Sex Work, Gender Justice and the Law, 2020, 9(1), 1-30,  https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci9010001

Abstract

System‐involvement resulting from anti‐trafficking interventions and the criminalization of sex work and migration results in negative health impacts on sex workers, migrants, and people with trafficking experiences. Due to their stigmatized status, sex workers and people with trafficking experiences often struggle to access affordable, unbiased, and supportive health care. This paper will use thematic analysis of qualitative data from in‐depth interviews and ethnographic fieldwork with 50 migrant sex workers and trafficked persons, as well as 20 key informants from legal and social services, in New York and Los Angeles. It will highlight the work of trans‐specific and sex worker–led initiatives that are internally addressing gaps in health care and the negative health consequences that result from sexual humanitarian anti‐trafficking interventions that include policing, arrest, court‐involvement, court‐mandated social services, incarceration, and immigration detention. Our analysis focuses on the impact of the criminalization on sex workers and their experiences with sexual humanitarian efforts intended to protect and control them. We argue that these grassroots community‐based efforts are a survival‐oriented reaction to the harms of criminalization and a response to vulnerabilities left unattended by mainstream sexual humanitarian approaches to protection and service provision that frame sex work itself as the problem. Peer‐to‐peer interventions such as these create solidarity and resiliency within marginalized communities, which act as protective buffers against institutionalized systemic violence and the resulting negative health outcomes. Our results suggest that broader public health support and funding for community‐led health initiatives are needed to reduce barriers to health care resulting from stigma, criminalization, and ineffective anti‐trafficking and humanitarian efforts. We conclude that the decriminalization of sex work and the reform of institutional practices in the US are urgently needed to reduce the overall negative health outcomes of system‐ involvement.

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.

Abstract

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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Della Giusta, Marina & Di Tommaso, Maria Laura & Jewell, Sarah & Bettio, Francesca, 2019. “Quashing Demand Criminalizing Clients? Evidence from the UK,” IZA Discussion Papers 12405, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
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We discuss changes in the demand for paid sex accompanying the criminalization of prostitution in the United Kingdom, which moved from a relatively permissive regime under the Wolfenden Report of 1960, to a much harder line of aiming to crack down on prostitution with the Prostitution (Public Places) Scotland Act 2007 and the Policing and Crime Act of 2009 in England and Wales. We make use of two waves of a representative survey, the British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal2, conducted in 2000-2001 and Natsal3, conducted in 2010-2012) to illustrate the changes in demand that have taken place across the two waves. We do not find demand decreasing in our sample and find a shift in the composition of demand towards more risky clients, which we discuss in the context of the current trends towards criminalization of prostitution.
Full article available here.
Cohen, Bernard. 2018. „Police Enforcement of Street Prostitution as a Quality-of-Life Offense: New York City, United States, and Frankfurt am Main, Germany“. Deviant Behavior 0 (0): 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/01639625.2018.1431096.
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The present paper compares how police in Hunts Point, South Bronx, New York City and Frankfurt am Main Germany manage street prostitution as a quality-of-life offense. Methods utilized for this research include observation and “conversation” in public spaces with prostitutes, police, and community members. This paper deals with characteristics of street prostitutes, police enforcement, actual interaction between police and street actors, and impact of these methods on prostitutes. For decades, broken windows policing has been utilized to counter quality-of-life offenses in urban neighborhoods such as NYC, and evidence regarding its effectiveness has often been questioned. In attempts to address prostitution, two variant policing models were identified and examined through the framework of broken windows theory: Punitive/Criminalization Policing and Containment/Laissez-Faire Policing. Broken windows policing probably lowered the incidence of quality-of-life offenses including street prostitution. However, broken windows theory does not take into account socially constructed myths that persist about prostitution, nor the realities that counter them. This paper addresses these myths and how they may inform policing practices, resulting in negative corollary effects which must be eliminated.

Kramm, R. “Haunted by Defeat: Imperial Sexualities, Prostitution, and the Emergence of Postwar Japan.” Journal of World History, vol. 28 no. 3, 2017, pp. 587-614.  doi:10.1353/jwh.2017.0043
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This article addresses sexuality and prostitution as key elements in the emergence of postwar Japanese nationalism. It analyzes discursive practices, which Japan’s authorities used to conceptualize the recreational facilities aimed at “comforting” the Allied occupiers during the still imaginary encounter of occupier and occupied in the immediate post-surrender period. The conceptualization of prostitution at the end of WWII is a pivotal example for the clash of competing empires, the disintegration of Japan’s empire, and postwar imagination of the Japanese nation-state. Since the early twentieth century Japan’s aggressive war and colonial rule in Asia exported sex workers as well as specific notions of sexuality—often mediated through further global entanglements with the West and its colonies—that had shaped the understanding of Japan’s empire and Japanese imperial subjectivity. With defeat in 1945, Japan’s imperial dreams shattered, but imperial experiences of sexuality and prostitution continued to shape ideas of Japanese belonging.

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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One fifth of the Bruges prostitutes in the eighteenth century was prosecuted by the bench of aldermen because their family had requested this. Families called in the help of the court firstly because they were worried about their daughters, wives and sisters and secondly because the sexual reputation of their deviant relatives affected their own lives as well. Families lost their honour because sexual debauchery was a sign of mal education and because it revealed that the family was not able to control the behaviour of its womenfolk. Therefore, prostitutes were, as the eighteenth century synonym seems to indicate, ‘dishonest’ towards their parents. In general, families only went to court when their daughters proved unruly, which is when the families did not succeed in adjusting the dishonest behaviour themselves. When they did go to court, they put great effort in proving ‘good parenthood’ because they had to counterbalance the stigma of dishonesty already affecting them. The bench of aldermen was willing to help honest families with controlling their unruly daughters, partly because the city had a fatherly responsibility over its own citizens. Hence, the Bruges dishonest daughters were imprisoned in the spinning or correction house.
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Full article available here.
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There is a notable shift toward more repression and criminalization in sex work policies, in Europe and elsewhere. So-called neo-abolitionism reduces sex work to trafficking, with increased policing and persecution as a result. Punitive “demand reduction” strategies are progressively more popular. These developments call for a review of what we know about the effects of punishing and repressive regimes vis-à-vis sex work. From the evidence presented, sex work repression and criminalization are branded as “waterbed politics” that push and shove sex workers around with an overload of controls and regulations that in the end only make things worse. It is illustrated how criminalization and repression make it less likely that commercial sex is worker-controlled, non-abusive, and non-exploitative. Criminalization is seriously at odds with human rights and public health principles. It is concluded that sex work criminalization is barking up the wrong tree because it is fighting sex instead of crime and it is not offering any solution for the structural conditions that sex work (its ugly sides included) is rooted in. Sex work repression travels a dead-end street and holds no promises whatsoever for a better future. To fight poverty and gendered inequalities, the criminal justice system simply is not the right instrument. The reasons for the persistent stigma on sex work as well as for its present revival are considered.