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Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 43; doi:10.3390/socsci6020043

Why Prostitution Policy (Usually) Fails and What to Do about It?

Department of Urban Studies and Planning, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK
Academic Editor: Leslie Jeffrey
Received: 13 March 2017 / Revised: 13 April 2017 / Accepted: 20 April 2017 / Published: 28 April 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sex Workers’ Rights: Looking toward the Future)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [238 KB, uploaded 28 April 2017]

Abstract

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. View Full-Text
Keywords: prostitution; trafficking; public policy; sex workers; human rights; labor exploitation; labor rights; collaborative governance prostitution; trafficking; public policy; sex workers; human rights; labor exploitation; labor rights; collaborative governance
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Wagenaar, H. Why Prostitution Policy (Usually) Fails and What to Do about It? Soc. Sci. 2017, 6, 43.

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