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In an attempt to abolish prostitution, Sweden criminalised the purchase of sex in 1999, while simultaneously decriminalising its sale. In so doing, it set itself apart from other European states, promoting itself as the pioneer of a radical approach to prostitution. What has come to be referred to as ‘the Swedish model’ has been enormously influential, and has since been adopted and proposed by other countries. This book establishes the outcomes of this law – and the law’s justifying narratives – for the dynamics of Swedish sex work, and upon the lives of sex workers. Drawing on recent fieldwork undertaken in Sweden over several years, including qualitative interviewing and participant observation, Jay Levy argues that far from being a law to be emulated, the Swedish model has had many detrimental impacts, and has failed to demonstrably decrease levels of prostitution. Criminalising the Purchase of Sex: Lessons from Sweden utilises a wealth of respondent testimony and secondary research to redress the current lack of primary academic research and to contribute to academic discussion on this politically-charged and internationally relevant topic. This original and timely work will be of interest to sex worker rights organisations, policy makers and politicians, as well as researchers, academics and students across a number of related disciplines, including law, sociology, criminology, human geography and gender studies.
The Subject of Prostitution offers a distinctive analysis of the links between prostitution and social theory in order to advance a critical analysis of the relationship of law to sex work. Using the lens of social theory to disrupt fixed meanings the book provides an advanced analytical framework through which to understand the complexity and contingencies of sex work in late modernity. The book analyses contemporary citizenship discourse and the law's ability to meet the competing demands of empowerment by sex workers and protection by radical feminists who view prostitution as the epitome of patriarchal sexual and economic relations. Its central focus is the role of law in both structuring and responding to the 'problem of prostitution'. By developing a distinctive constitutive approach to law, the author offers a more advanced analytical framework from which to understand how law matters in contemporary debates and also suggests how law could matter in more imaginative justice reforms. This is particularly pertinent in a period of unprecedented legal reform, both internationally and nationally, as legal norms simultaneously attempt to protect, empower and criminalise parties involved in the purchase of sexual services. The Subject of Prostitution aims to overcome the current aporia in these debates and suggest new ways to engage with the subject and law. As such, The Subject of Prostitution provides an advanced theoretical resource for policymakers, researchers and activists involved in contemporary struggles over the meanings and place of sex work in late modernity.
"On December 20, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered a landmark decision that substantially reshaped Canada's legal framework regarding adult prostitution. The case of Bedford v. Canada resulted in the striking down of three provisions of the Criminal Code: the communication, bawdy-house and living on the avails laws. ... The declaration of invalidity of the laws did not, however, take effect immediately. The Court gave the government one year to contemplate whether new prostitution laws should be enacted. The Bedford decision has brought Canada to a critical juncture. Will Canada shift away from the criminalization of adult sex work? Or will the government continue to criminalize sex work in other ways? The Canadian government has indicated its interest in the approach taken in Sweden, which enacted a law in 1999 prohibiting the purchase of sexual services. Given the active debate that is occurring in Canada and around the world regarding Sweden's approach to criminalization, it is an important time to examine and evaluate the evidence regarding the impact of this model"--
There is great interest internationally in the development of prostitution policies in the Nordic countries after Sweden, Norway and Iceland have introduced general bans against buying sex whilst selling sex remains legal. In addition, there is a partial ban against buying sex in Finland. This is a different approach from that of several other European countries, where we have seen a decriminalisation of third-party involvement in prostitution as well as to that of the USA which criminalises both the buying and selling of sexual services. Thus the Nordic countries are often treated as representatives of a 'Nordic model' of prostitution policies. In this book - the first on the subject - Skilbrei and Holmström argue that these models of policies or policy regimes tend to ignore the trajectories, contexts and consequences of the full range of approaches to prostitution, thus they are too simplistic and static. Prostitution policies in the Nordic countries are multifaceted and dynamic, and cannot be represented as following a straight path and detached from empirical contexts. Their analysis treats Nordic prostitution policies both as a product of history, of current national and Nordic debates, and of international obligations and changes in the international and national prostitution markets. Furthermore they argue that a broad understanding of the relevant context is necessary so as to place Nordic prostitution policies within broader policy concerns related to gender, class, ethnicity, sexuality, social welfare, immigration and organised crime, as well as to neoliberal forms of governance.
How the law harms sex workers--and what they want instead Do you have to endorse prostitution in order to support sex worker rights? Should clients be criminalized, and can the police deliver justice? In Revolting Prostitutes, sex workers Juno Mac and Molly Smith bring a fresh perspective to questions that have long been contentious. Speaking from a growing global sex worker rights movement, and situating their argument firmly within wider questions of migration, work, feminism, and resistance to white supremacy, they make it clear that anyone committed to working towards justice and freedom should be in support of the sex worker rights movement.
In the past two decades, feminist politics on prostitution has become more polarised and ideological. On the one hand, those on the radical spectrum of feminist politics have fought long and hard to criminalise sex purchase with the intention of ultimately abolishing prostitution. Other feminists have lobbied the state to recognise and institutionalise sex workers' human rights. The collection is both a critical intervention in and a re-orientation of the schism in contemporary feminist prostitution politics. Contributors will use this schism as a platform from which to challenge current debates, and 'think' an alternative sex worker-centred politics for social justice. By placing sex workers' lived experiences of prostitution at the centre of the conversation, the book rejects the hegemony of neo-abolitionism as the solution to the 'problem' of sex work. The book brings international, trans-disciplinary scholars together to address a rights-based agenda for sex work law and policy and consequently for sex workers' lives. This collection offers an invaluable resource on the subject of how sex workers experience injustices and how we can mitigate this globally through a transformative vision of social justice.
Sex work has been a contentious issue in a variety of ways throughout history – socially, morally, ethically, religiously and politically. Traditionally noted as one of the oldest professions in the world, sex work has commonly been demonised and is often viewed as a social disgrace. While sex work involves both providers of sexual services, most commonly women, and purchasers of sexual services, most commonly men, providers have attracted the most social commentary. Recent research shows that a limited number of studies have been conducted since 1990 concerning men who procure sexual services. This book aims to help reset this balance. In this book, Philip Birch examines the procurement of female sexual services with a focus on the personal and social aspects of men who procure such exchanges and offers insight into the demographics amongst men who purchase sexual services, alongside an analysis of the reasons why they purchase sex. This book brings together existing literature with analyses of new data to develop a multi-factor model reflecting men’s procurement of sexual services and demonstrates the complexities surrounding the procuration of these sexual services in exchange for money. The book considers what contribution the understanding of the personal and social aspects of men who procure sexual services has on re-theorising the purchasing of sex in the 21st Century and will be of interest to academics and students involved in the study of criminology, criminal justice, social policy, law, sociology, sexuality and gender studies.
This book explores the outcomes of Sweden’s aim to create a ‘drug-free society’ on the lived realities, health, and welfare of people who use drugs, and on the dynamics of Swedish drug use. Drawing on a wealth of empirical data, including extensive interview testimony and participant observation from years of fieldwork conducted in Sweden, the book debunks the widely-believed myth that Sweden is a progressive, liberal, inclusive state. In contrast to its liberal reputation, Sweden has criminalised the use of drugs and allows for compulsory treatment for those with drug dependencies. The work argues that Swedish law and policy cannot be demonstrated to have decreased drug use as intended, with the law used instead as a means with which to displace people who use drugs from public spaces in Sweden’s cities. And where the law has failed in its ambition to decrease drug use, Swedish law and policy have increased and exacerbated the problems, dangers, and harms that can be associated with it. People who use drugs in Sweden experience considerable and endemic difficulties with health, violence, abuse, and social exclusion, stigma, and discrimination as a result of Sweden’s drug laws, policies, and discourses.
Providing a detailed international comparison of the laws, policies and interventions relating to prostitution in eight countries across Europe and Asia, this title includes case studies that are brought to life by giving voice to the experiences of prostitutes themselves.
This thesis consists of three chapters devoted to analyse the determinants of prostitution and sex crimes. The first chapter, jointly co-authored with Micaela Sviatschi (Princeton), finds evidence that adult entertainment establishments and sex crimes behave as substitutes. We build a daily panel that combines the exact location of not-self-reported sex crimes with the day of opening and exact location of adult entertainment establishments in New York City. We find that these businesses decrease daily sex crime by 13% per police precinct. The results imply that the reduction is mostly driven by potential sex offenders frequenting these establishments rather than committing crimes. The second chapter shows that improving prostitutes’ outside options deter prostitution. Specifically, this chapter fills the gap between two strands of the literature suggesting that unilateral divorce should decrease prostitution as a result of higher wives’ welfare. I build a unique panel data set for the U.S to test this prediction. Differences in the timing of entry into force of unilateral divorce laws across U.S. states provide a quasi-experimental setting allowing to estimate the effect of unilateral divorce laws on female prostitution (proxied by female prostitutes’ arrests). Using a diff-in-diff estimation approach, I find that unilateral divorce reduces prostitution by about 10%. I explore several mechanisms that could rationalize my findings. The mechanism that fits best the empirical evidence is one where unilateral divorce improves the option value of getting married by increasing wives’ welfare. As a result, the supply of prostitution declines. Finally, in the third chapter I rely on a recent economic literature, including Chapter 1 of this thesis, reporting evidence on how sex crime and prostitution behave as substitutable activities. This chapter makes use of variation in fines for sex purchase in Sweden to analyse the relationship between criminalising the purchase of prostitution and rape; and finds that higher fines for sex purchase increase rape on impact.
Rapid Assessment of existing evidence on the impact of the criminalisation of the purchase of sex.
This edited volume focuses on charting the rise of neo-abolitionism and offering a critique of the idea, its logics and consequences. A model of state policy which aims to abolish prostitution through legislation, Neo-abolitionism criminalises the buyer of sex but not the seller. It is currently law in Sweden and other Nordic states and dominates the framing of policy debates in many other Western liberal contexts. Pressure for adoption of this policy has come from radical feminists who understand prostitution and sex trafficking as a form of violence against women. This volume argues that this convergence between radical feminism and state’s interests arises from the emergence of, on the one hand, ‘governance feminism’ which seeks to have its ideals implemented through ‘top-down sovereigntist means’, and on the other hand, state’s interests in legitimising stricter border controls and law enforcement responses in relation to transnational organised criminality, ‘illegal’ migration, and security. Based around a series of country case studies each chapter will explore the politics surrounding the emergence of neo-abolitionism and its trajectory through those polities, whether the paradigm has been adopted, rejected or is still under debate. The volume will be of great interest to students and scholars of Social and Public Policy, Gender and Women’s Studies, Politics and International Relations and Critical Legal Studies/Criminology.
The sale or purchase of sex by adults is not formally criminalized in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires), Argentina. However, in practice, these activities are criminalized on multiple levels through a range of laws that punish activities related to and communications around the sale and purchase of sex, as well as a Federal Anti-trafficking Law and related initiatives that fail to distinguish between consensual sex work and human trafficking into the sex sector.
This report is based on national reports conducted in 30 European countries. It discusses gender inequalities in the risks of poverty and social exclusion in the case of disadvantaged groups. Specifically it focuses on issues such as the intersection of gender and age in risks of social exclusion, gender differences in rates of long-term unemployment and inactivity, rural poverty and the exclusion of disabled people, the risks of social exclusion and poverty faced by lone parents, the intersection of gender and ethnicity in social exclusion in the case of Roma. [Ed.]
The Subject of Prostitution offers a distinctive analysis of the links between prostitution and social theory using these insights to advance a critical analysis of the relationship of law to sex/work. Using the lens of social theory to disrupt fixed meanings the book provides an advanced analytical framework through which to understand the complexity and contingencies of sex/work in late-modernity. Offering a selective genealogy of the subject of prostitution, discrete chapters analyses key historical moments from the Contagious Diseases Acts and their relationship to modernity, AIDs and risk, to contemporary citizenship discourse and the competing demands of empowerment by sexworkers and protection by radical feminists who view prostitution as the epitome of patriarchal sexual and economic relations. The author's central focus is the role of law in structuring, and as a resource responding to, the 'problem of prostitution'. This is particularly pertinent as we enter a period of unprecedented legal reform both internationally and nationally and legal norms simultaneously attempt to protect, empower and criminalise parties involved in the purchase of sexual services. The Subject of Prostitution aims to provide an advanced theoretical resource for policy makers, researchers and activists involved in contemporary struggles over the meanings and place of sex/work in late modernity. Drawing on interdisciplinary insights, this sustained critical analysis operates as a key node between studies prostitution and social theory more generally, introducing the subject to a wider audience as it brings social theory to prostitution and prostitution to social theorists.
Patterns of prostitution are changing radically under the influence of Western affluence, deepening Third World poverty, cheap international travel, cultural shifts in attitudes to extra-marital sex, and the Internet.

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