Archive

Tag Archives: Criminalization and Police

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.
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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.

Aminda M. Smith, ‘The Dilemma of Thought Reform: Beijing Reformatories and the Origins of Reeducation through Labor, 1949–1957’, Modern China 39(2) (2013): 203–234. 
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This article explores the efforts of the early People’s Republic of China (PRC) to intern and reform beggars, prostitutes, and other socially marginalized individuals as important precursors to the post-1957 system of Reeducation through Labor. It links a case study of local practice in Beijing to central government discussions about policy formulation to trace a series of co-constituted changes in the practical methods associated with thought reform as well as in the way PRC reeducators perceived the nature of their targets. It argues that Reeducation through Labor, as moniker and practice, was forged through the many contradictions between real idealism and practical reality that were discussed, debated, but never entirely resolved by the earliest PRC reeducators.