Tag Archives: Decriminalisation

Anasti, Theresa. 2018. „Survivor or Laborer: How Human Service Managers Perceive Sex Workers?“ Affilia, Mai, 0886109918778075.


Regardless of primary population served, human service organizations are likely to come into contact with individuals who have been currently or formerly involved in the sex trade. In the United States, social workers have had a fraught history with this population, either treating them like delinquents or like victims in need of rescue. Sex worker activists in the United States continue to decry the negative treatment provided by individuals in the helping professions, even as harm reduction, the practice of reducing the harm of risky behaviors, has entered the service provision lexicon as an antidote to abstinence-only services. This article uses qualitative interviews with managers of human service organizations in the city of Chicago to determine how they think about their work with sex workers and how they perceive the proposed solutions to “fixing” the sex trade: abolitionism and decriminalization. Findings show that despite the dominant discourse of abolitionism in the United States, most of managers in this project believe full decriminalization of sex work will best assist their sex worker clients. Future research needs to understand how this finding holds in different settings and how this affects current efforts to advocate for decriminalization.

It has been claimed that the decriminalization of sex work may result in its proliferation, but there is no evidence to prove or disprove this claim. We investigated whether decriminalization was associated with the prevalence of paying for sex. A representative national sample of 8074 Australian men interviewed by telephone reported whether they had paid for sex ever and in the last 12 months. Cross-sectional associations between paying for sex in the last 12 months and their jurisdiction’s legal approach to sex work (criminalized, licensed, or decriminalized), were examined with logistic regression analysis, controlling for demographic variables and relationship status. Overall, 2.2 % of the men reported paying for sex in the past year—a proportion that was not statistically different by state or territory (P = 0.26). The only variable that was associated with paying for sex was not having a regular sexual partner, or to a lesser extent, not living with a regular partner. Being aged 16–19 years was associated with lower odds of paying for sex. Being a male without a regular partner was associated with paying for sex. The legal approach to sex work in the respondent’s state of residence was not associated with having paid for sex.

Adrienne D. Davis, Regulating Sex Work: Erotic Assimilationism, Erotic Exceptionalism, and the Challenge of Intimate Labor, 103 Cal. L. Rev. 1195 (2015). Available at:


Most commentators on sex markets focus on the debate between abolitionists and those who defend and support professional sex work. This Article, instead, looks at debates within the pro-sex-work camp, uncovering some unattended tensions and contradictions. Some within this camp stress the labor aspect, urging that sex markets perpetuate a “vulnerable population” of workers and should be regulated like other forms of risky and/or exploited labor. In this view, sex work would be assimilated into existing labor regulatory frameworks. Others, though, take a more antiregulatory stance. They exceptionalize this form of labor, arguing that because it is sexual it should be exempt from state scrutiny and interference, claims that can quickly sound libertarian. While both camps agree that professional sex work should be decriminalized, when turning from the criminal to the regulatory perspective, erotic assimilationists and erotic exceptionalists could not be more opposed. The Article contends that neither of these views is satisfactory. Sex work could very well be legalized and regulated—if we have the political and moral will to do so. Ultimately, this Article breaks hard with erotic exceptionalism and slightly less so with erotic assimilationism to explore a regulatory structure that might govern sex markets. While many sex work regulations could fit into the current legal frameworks that govern workplaces, I contend that there are unique characteristics of sex work that make it much harder to assimilate into current regulatory regimes, especially in the controversial realm of antidiscrimination law.

Decriminalisation: A harm minimisation and human rights approach to regulating sex work.

Author: Gillian Abel, PhD 2010
Ph.D. ThesisUniversity of Otago, Public Health Research


This thesis takes a community-based participatory approach, using mixed methods to examine the impact of the decriminalisation of sex work in New Zealand through the lens of a public health discourse of harm minimisation. The key question addressed in this thesis is whether decriminalisation has minimised the harms experienced by sex workers. Rather than taking a narrow view of harm minimisation and looking merely at the practices of sex workers, I have taken a more holistic stance, taking into account structural social issues which contribute to the health and wellbeing of sex workers. Data were collected through a survey of 772 sex workers and in-depth interviews with 58 sex workers in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Napier and Nelson. Estimates were done of the number of sex workers in these cities which show little change post-decriminalisation compared to estimates done prior to decriminalisation. There has been some change in the shape of the industry with more people working privately in the suburbs and fewer in the brothels and escort agencies but little change in size of the street-based sector. Such minimal change in the size of the sex industry is not surprising as the underlying motivations for working in this industry have not changed in a decriminalised environment. As this thesis demonstrates, structural factors (such as economic climate, employment opportunities, welfare, housing and sickness benefits) are associated with the entry into sex work rather than the way the industry is regulated.

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