Tag Archives: Law & public policy

Anglí, Mariona Llobet. ‘Will the End of Prostitution Eradicate Human Trafficking? Four Fallacies in the Abolitionist Approach’. EuCLR European Criminal Law Review 9, no. 1 (2019): 99–119. (Link)


The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the ‘war of data’ on prostitution brought on by scholars, politicians, NGOs and the media. The paper also tackles the misleading wordings and realities in place, which significantly shake the empirical and conceptual foundations of abolitionism, thereby challenging abolitionist claims. As will be shown below, the abolitionist approach is flawed by four fallacies: the statistical, the phenomenological, the deductive and the deterrence fallacy. Therefore, we can conclude that there is no empirical evidence that abolishing prostitution would eradicate, or at least decrease, human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

Ward, Eilís. ‘“Framing Figures” and the Campaign for Sex Purchase Criminalisation in Ireland: A Lakoffian Analysis:’ Irish Journal of Sociology, 1 December 2020.


If the concept of social justice posits equality and fairness between subjects in the social order, then the presence of those subjects within that order must first and foremost be acknowledged. In Ireland’s recent reform of prostitution law contained in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017, the presence of the sex worker as a rights-bearing subject or citizen, with access to justice in that capacity, was denied. In this article I focus on the use of data by the neo-abolitionist ‘Turn off the Red Light’ campaign to ‘flatten out’ the complexity of sex workers lives and present the figure of the ‘vulnerable prostituted woman’ and the ‘trafficking victim’: tragic, abject, a necessarily violated person and in need of ‘protection’ from the state. I argue that this data, entering public and political discourse as uncontestable truth, constituted what I call, ‘framing figures’, framing an inevitable outcome and precluding certain subjects from the status of equality and fairness. The data allowed campaigners for the Sex Purchase Ban (SPB), and, in turn the state, to eclipse a social justice approach to sex work, such as proposed by the Sex Workers Alliance of Ireland and other actors.

In the past twenty years, an international consensus has slowly emerged: sex workers’ rights are human rights. The United Nations (UN) and regional human rights bodies, inter-governmental organizations, and in- fluential nonprofit human rights organizations have institutionalized the concept of sex workers’ rights as human rights in direct response to global sex workers’ rights advocacy.

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.

Full article available here. 

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.

Full article available here:

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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