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.
Benoit, Cecilia, S. Mikael Jansson, Michaela Smith, and Jackson Flagg. “Prostitution Stigma and Its Effect on the Working Conditions, Personal Lives, and Health of Sex Workers.” The Journal of Sex Research
, November 17, 2017, 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2017.1393652
Researchers have shown that stigma is a fundamental determinant of behavior, well-being, and health for many marginalized groups, but sex workers are notably absent from their analyses. This article aims to fill the empirical research gap on sex workers by reviewing the mounting evidence of stigmatization attached to sex workers’ occupation, often referred to as “prostitution” or “whore” stigma. We give special attention to its negative effect on the working conditions, personal lives, and health of sex workers. The article first draws attention to the problem of terminology related to the subject area and makes the case for consideration of prostitution stigmatization as a fundamental cause of social inequality. We then examined the sources of prostitution stigma at macro, meso, and micro levels. The third section focuses on tactics sex workers employ to manage, reframe, or resist occupational stigma. We conclude with a call for more comparative studies of stigma related to sex work to contribute to the general stigma literature, as well as social policy and law reform.
This article uses Jonathan Simon’s concept of ‘governing through crime’ as a framework to argue that the state has framed sex work, and its surrounding problems, as issues of crime. There has been a privileging and proliferation of criminal justice responses to sex work in England and Wales, at the expense of more social or welfare-based responses and at the expense of creating safer environments for sex workers to work. Criminal law is used to manage and control sex work, to reinforce other policies, such as immigration and border control, and to appear to be doing something about the ‘problem’ of sex work without providing rights to sex workers. By framing sex work as an issue of crime, with sex workers being both the perpetrators of crime and the potential victims of exploitative crime, the state is able to legitimise its actions against sex workers, while ignoring the harm done to sex workers by the state.
Brown, K., & Sanders, T. (2017). Pragmatic, Progressive, Problematic: Addressing Vulnerability through a Local Street Sex Work Partnership Initiative. Social Policy and Society, 1-13. doi:10.1017/S1474746416000634
Whilst it remains a criminal activity to solicit sex publicly in the UK, it has become increasingly popular to configure sex workers as ‘vulnerable’, often as a means of foregrounding the significant levels of violence faced by female street sex workers. Sex work scholars have highlighted that this discourse can play an enabling role in a moralistic national policy agenda which criminalises and marginalises those who sell sex. Yet multiple and overlapping narratives of vulnerability circulate in this policy arena, raising questions about how these might operate at ground level. Drawing on empirical data gathered in the development of an innovative local street sex work multi-agency partnership in Leeds, this article explores debates, discourses and realities of sex worker vulnerability. Setting applied insights within more theoretically inclined analysis, we suggest how vulnerability might usefully be understood in relation to sex work, but also highlight how social justice for sex workers requires more than progressive discourses and local initiatives. Empirical findings highlight that whilst addressing vulnerability through a local street sex work multi-agency partnership initiative, a valuable platform for shared action on violence in particular can be created. However, an increase in fundamental legal and social reform is required in order to address the differentiated and diverse lived experiences of sex worker vulnerability.
Mulvihill, N. (2017). The criminalisation of paying for sex in England and Wales: How gender and power are implicated in the making of policy. Journal of Public Policy, 1-25. doi:10.1017/S0143814X16000295
This article considers how gender and power are implicated in how prostitution policy is translated from initial proposal to enactment in law. The analysis brings together Freeman’s proposal for “policy translation” (2009) and Connell’s work on “hegemonic masculinity” (1987 with Messerschmidt 2005) to examine Hansard and other United Kingdom Parliament documents relating to Clause 13/14 of the Policing and Crime Bill 2008–2009, a proposal to criminalise the purchase of sex in England and Wales. It is argued here that hegemonic masculinity is implicated in how “responsibility” and “exploitation” in relation to sex purchase are disputed and defined within the Parliamentary debates on Clause 13/14, and this in turn informed the version of criminalisation that emerged as authoritative. This article reflects finally on how far mapping the translation of policy can elucidate the operation of gender and power within the policy process.
Full article available here.
This article interrogates how the figure of the trans street-based sex worker is deployed to argue for positive intervention on behalf of trans individuals, in addition to how it is used at the expense of a variety of trans experiences of sex work. As a corollary, this article addresses how a nuanced account of trans sex work, responsive to these concerns, can provide the basis for a more robust conception of trans theory.