Tag Archives: Law & public policy


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.

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Fiona Scorgie, Katie Vasey, Eric Harper, Marlise Richter, Prince Nare, Sian Maseko and Matthew F Chersich (3013): Human rights abuses and collective resilience among sex workers in four African countries: a qualitative study, in: Globalization and Health 2013, 9:33.

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Sex work is a criminal offence, virtually throughout Africa. This criminalisation and the
intense stigma attached to the profession shapes interactions between sex workers and their
clients, family, fellow community members, and societal structures such as the police and
social services.
We explore the impact of violence and related human rights abuses on the lives of sex
workers, and how they have responded to these conditions, as individuals and within small
collectives. These analyses are based on data from 55 in-depth interviews and 12 focus group
discussions with female, male and transgender sex workers in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda
and Zimbabwe. Data were collected by sex worker outreach workers trained to conduct
qualitative research among their peers.

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Regulating Prostitution: Social Inclusion, Responsibilization and the Politics of Prostitution Reform

Authors: Jane Scoular and Maggie O’Neill

Following Matthews ’ (2005) recent examination of prostitution’s changing regulatory framework,we offer a critical account of the move from ‘ enforcement ’ (punishment) to ‘ multi-agency ’ (regula- tory) responses as, in part, a consequence of new forms of governance. We focus on the increasing salience of exiting — a move favoured by Matthews as signalling a renewed welfare approach, but one which, when viewed in the wider context of ‘progressive governance ,’ offers insight into New Labour’s attempt to increase social control under the rhetoric of inclusion, through techniques of risk and responsibilization. By exploring the moral and political components of these techniques, we demonstrate how they operate to privilege and exclude certain forms of citizenship, augmenting the on-going hegemonic moral and political regulation of sex workers.

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