In April 2016, France adopted a new law enshrining a conception of prostitution as a form of violence against women that needed to be ‘abolished’ and setting up a complex policy framework to achieve this end. This framework comprises a criminal justice ‘pillar’ dedicated to prohibiting and punishing the purchase of sexual services, and a social service ‘pillar’ dedicated to providing financial and social support to individuals involved in selling sex—uniformly assumed to be women and systematically considered to be victims. The new policy was supposed to break from 70 years of symbolic politics characterised by ambiguous regulation, low political attention, and lax policy implementation. Drawing on documentary and interview data, and using the Gender Equality Policy in Practice framework to determine the policy’s current and potential impact on women’s rights and gender equality, this article argues that implementation of France’s new anti-prostitution policy is currently at a critical juncture. Budget reductions, a lack of central state steering, and competing policy priorities are contributing to hollowing out the policy of its capacity to support individuals wishing to exit prostitution while possibly deteriorating the working conditions of those who cannot or do not wish to exit.
Mancini, Christina, Justin T. Pickett, Kristen M. Budd, Stephanie Bontrager, and Dominique Roe-Sepowitz. 2020. ‘Examining Policy Preferences for Prostitution Regulation Among American Males: The Influence of Contextual Beliefs’. Criminal Justice Review, February. https://doi.org/10.1177/0734016820906601.
The arguments for criminalizing prostitution surround public concerns—moral order, public health, and safety. For this reason, an understanding of attitudes about the nature and consequences of the practice, particularly among American males, the presumed consumers of sex-related exchanges, is needed. Specifically, how do contextual beliefs about the nature of prostitution (e.g., negative health effects, victimization risk, age of entry) shape policy preferences regarding prostitution? Data from a nationally representative survey developed to solicit sensitive information are utilized to assess these attitudes among a large sample of American men (N = 2,525). Results show that paradoxically most men approve of legalizing commercial sex exchange, even while believing the practice harms prostitutes by increasing victimization risk and reducing their overall well-being. Multivariate analysis indicates divides in opinion regarding legalization support. Implications are discussed.
Connell, Kieran. ‘PROS: The Programme for the Reform of the Law on Soliciting, 1976–1982’. Twentieth Century British History. November 2019. https://doi.org/10.1093/tcbh/hwz032.
In the late 1970s, a campaign was mounted to reform the legal landscape faced by sex workers, which had remained unaltered since a series of recommendations made in the Wolfenden Report were implemented by the government two decades earlier. While Wolfenden is commonly associated with the arrival of Britain’s ‘permissive’ 1960s, when it came to the issue of prostitution, it helped usher in even more restrictive conditions for sex workers. This article looks at attempts to challenge this status quo by focusing on the Programme for the Reform of the Law on Soliciting (PROS), which was founded in Birmingham in 1976 and became one of the most visible groups advocating for a change in the law. Its activities culminated with the 1982 Criminal Justice Act, which ostensibly abandoned the policy of imprisoning prostitutes on soliciting offences. The case of PROS, I argue, offers a further reminder of the afterlife of the liberalizing ethos associated with the 1960s. Moreover, it provides a different way of engaging with a historical conjuncture more commonly associated with themes such as rising individualism, the fragmentation of left-wing activism, and the arrival of Thatcherism.
Ideas, policies and models related to criminal justice often travel between places. How, then, should we make sense of this movement? We make the case for drawing on the policy mobilities literature, which originates in human geography. It is only recently that criminological studies have drawn on small parts of this literature. This article argues for a more expansive engagement with the policy mobilities literature, so that criminal justice researchers focus on concepts such as mobilities, mutation, assemblages, learning, educating and showcasing when studying the movement of criminal justice ideas, policies and models. To illustrate our argument, we will draw on a case study of the adaptation of the ‘Swedish model’ of governing sex work by policymakers in Northern Ireland.
Concern about the issue of forced prostitution reached its height in the Russian empire (as elsewhere in Europe and the Americas) at the turn of the twentieth century, as part of the wider international “white slave” panic. In 1909, new antiprocurement statutes were incorporated into the Russian empire’s Criminal Code to ensure that those who forced, coerced, or encouraged young women to enter the commercial sex industry felt the full force of the law. This article uses a case study of the Russian empire’s Estonian provinces (Estliand and Lifliand) to highlight the regional nature of Russian imperial experience. Prosecuting procurement was aligned with the priorities of local government, and the authorities in Revel’ (Tallinn) and Iu’rev (Tartu) used the issue of procurement to bolster their revenue. Here, the statutes gave the authorities additional tools for targeting individuals, such as managers of unlicensed brothels, who deprived the government of the income it generated from regulating the commercial sex industry. Drawing on court cases from the early 1910s, this article also examines the interaction of lower-class people with the state, their engagement with the legal system, their knowledge of the law, and the rhetorical strategies they employed to in their attempts to secure specific outcomes.
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.
In England, sex workers are placed at the edges of the law. How the social and legal status of sex workers impacts on their perception of and interaction with the law in a semi-legal setting has not yet been explored. Drawing on fifty-two qualitative interviews with indoor and outdoor sex workers in England, this study investigates their disposition to the law, legality and the state. The commonalities and discrepancies between the experiences of indoor and outdoor sex workers reveal the influence of the combination of legal framework and social status on sex workers’ legal consciousness. This study finds that, even in a setting of semi-legality, sex workers attempt to avoid contact with state authorities. However, this aversion to the current law does not prevent them from making claims for legal change. Surprisingly, indoor and outdoor sex workers hold opposing views on the appropriate level of regulation and state involvement in the sex industry. Remarkably, although outdoor sex workers have more negative experiences with arbitrators of the law, they desire the law’s protection. In contrast, indoor sex workers’ main grievance is for sex work to be a legitimate industry that can operate with only minimal state control. These differences in outdoor and indoor workers’ legal claims are explicable by sharp cleavages in social status, vulnerability and degree of criminalisation. These findings demonstrate that intra-group differences in the legal consciousness of marginalised groups are key to understanding the role of social and legal status in shaping legal claims.
Late one night in October 1961, Los Angeles police officers V. C. Dossey and C. H. Watson thought they had made a legitimate arrest when they charged Betty, a white woman, with disorderly conduct. The officers were in their radio car, patrolling a predominantly black neighborhood in South Los Angeles—an area, according to police, “plagued by females” engaging in suspect sexual practices—when they observed Betty “cruis[ing] in a manner designed to attract” the attention of men….
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