In 1999, the Swedish government embarked on an experiment in social engineering1 to end men’s practice of purchasing commercial sexual services. The government enacted a new law criminalizing the purchase (but not the sale) of sex (Swedish Penal Code). It hoped that the fear of arrest and increased public stigma would convince men to change their sexual behaviour. The government also hoped that the law would force the estimated 1,850 to 3,000 women who sold sex in Sweden at that time to find another line of work.
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This paper places the development of sex workers’ movements over the past two decades within the historical context of feminist discourses on violence against women. The paper discusses the importance of the discourse on violence against women in framing contemporary abolitionist campaigns that seek to criminalize sex work. It goes on to discuss the contemporary context, including the status of alliances and dialogue between women’s, LGBTQ, and sex workers’ movements, focusing on India.
On June 4th, 2014 Justice Minister Peter MacKay introduced Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act. The draft legislation proposes a legal frameworkthat criminalises communication in public for the purpose of prostitution, the purchase ofsexual services, material benefit, and the advertisement of sexual services.
A number of people are excluded from the process and benefits of development because of their sexuality. Policies designed to lift people out of poverty, to provide employment and access to crucial services, all too often exclude those who do not conform to ‘normal’ sexual or gender identities. In many countries, this exclusion is also enforced through law.
This report deals with the various forms of exploitation experienced by migrant women in the labour market and how legislation designed to police immigration and prevent trafficking often fails to protect these vulnerable women. The report also examines the role of the media in objectifying migrant women through their often negative, stereotypical portrayals.
When purchase of sex is a crime: About new legal measure and its impact on harm reduction among sex workers in Sweden and Norway
The present article was written by a member of NSWP.
This Report aims to summarize the arguments for and against the criminalisation of the purchase of sexual services. It first describes the experiences of Swedish and Dutch legal regulation relating to the purchase of sexual services. In Sweden, there is a wish to abolish sex work by way of criminalising the client. In the Netherlands, sex work is allowed within certain limits (only involuntary sex work comes under criminal rules).
An analysis of the implementation of PEPFAR’s anti-prostitution pledge and its implications for successful HIV prevention among organizations working with sex workers
Since 2003, US government funding to address the HIV and AIDS pandemic has been subject to an anti-prostitution clause. This clause requires aid recipients to adopt an organizational policy opposing sex work and requires them to keep away from the “promotion of prostitution”. Simultaneously, the efficacy of some HIV prevention efforts for sex work in areas receiving US government funding has diminished. This article seeks to explain the unintended yet adverse effects of the implementation of the pledge through case stories.
You can download this 13 page resource as a PDF below.
Silence on Violence: Improving Safety of Women - the policing of off-street sex work and trafficking in London
This report was written in the run-up to the Olympic Games, held in London 2012 and it considers two overacrhing areas related to womens' safety within sex work: the policing of sex trafficking, and within that the policing for the Olymipics; and the general policing of sex workers. The report focusses on off-street sex work as the evidence shows that it very rarely, if at all, involves trafficked women.
The Chinese government is arbitrarily detaining sex workers through a flawed government policy purportedly aimed at education and rehabilitation, Asia Catalyst said in a new report released in December 2013.
The report documents excessive use of force by police in the detention of female sex workers, as well as the women's subsequent incarceration in the little-known "Custody and Education (C&E)" system.
This resource builds on INCITE's substantial background in issues faced by women of colour, criminalised or street-based communities, and queer and trans youth, particularly around police and state violence. It focuses on how "police violence against sex workers is not perceived by mainstream organisations as either police brutality, or violence against women, when it is clearly a manifestation of both".
You can download this 4 page PDF resource above. this resource is in English.
This resource is a briefing on why the organisation - the American Jewish World Service - fund sex worker rights organisations, but it is also a very effective introduction to the concept of sex worker rights, and the sex worker rights movement. It disccuses who sex workers are, and what is sex work, the rights of sex workers in places where sex work is illegal, and introduces a rights-based approach.
This resource commences by quoting Ronald Weitzer, who notes "the management of prostitution is one of the most invisible aspects of the trade". It goes on to discuss common prohibitionist discourse around sex work, that situates all possible study on the topic on a continuum between deviance and violence, before highlighting that this limited binary is "diametrically opposed to much of the scholarly literature, and, more importantly, to what sex workers are asserting - namely, that sex work is work".
The article explores the policy underpinning Sweden’s 1999 ban on the purchase of sexual services in the context of the social and health service sectors and the way that these sectors interact with sex workers. It argues that the rationale behind the sex purchase ban is difficult to reconcile with social policy outwith the 'merits' of criminal justice.
Rescuing Trafficking from Ideological Capture: Prostitution Reform and Anti-Trafficking Law and Policy
This article offers a historical account and critical assessment of the prostitution-reform debates’ considerable influence on anti-trafficking law and policy development over the last decade. The article exposes the difficulties of translating anti-prostitution ideology, borne out of closely held moral and ethical beliefs, into effective governance strategies.
This article looks at how legalisation came to the netherlands; what it was intended to do, and what the impact has been on sex workers. In order to answer these lines of enquiry, the article examines what discourses frame the major actors in this debate, starting with a historical overview of Dutch sex work policies throughout the 20th century. Having established the socio-political backdrop of the Netherlands' approach to legalised sex work, the resource discusses how legalisation (or regulationism) "did not solve a number of serious problems in the sex industry".
This reference text seeks to "clarify terms and illustrate examples of alternatives to the use of criminal law as a response to sex work". It provides capsule definitions - with small case-studies or examples - of what a variety of laws and policies look like in terms of their impact on sex work, covering criminalisation, legalisation, and decriminalisation, along with a mini-discussion of other laws that are used against sex workers, such as the criminalisation of HIV transmission, or immigration enforcement.
The Law and Sexworker Health (LASH) team at the Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales were funded by the NSW Ministry of Health to better inform policy considerations, and the National Health and Medical Research Council to investigate if the various approaches across Australian jurisdictions were associated with different health and welfare outcomes for sex workers.
In 1999, the Swedish government embarked on an experiment in social engineering to end men’s practice of purchasing commercial sexual services. The government enacted a new law criminalising the purchase (but not the sale) of sex (Swedish Penal Code). It hoped that the fear of arrest and increased public stigma would convince men to change their sexual behaviour. The government also hoped that the law would force the estimated 1,850 to 3,000 women who sold sex in Sweden at that time to find another line of work.
This paper, written by Phil Marshall, briefly raises some issues around the demand side of trafficking, initially focusing on demand relating to exploitative labour practices and then discussing issues around demand contributing to exploitation for sexual purposes. It is very much an opinion piece, intended to promote discussion.