Why decriminalise prostitution? Because law and justice aren't always the same

Jane Scoular, Sharron FitzGerald

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Abstract

Leigh Goodmark's work on domestic violence argues for alternatives to criminal justice to 'solve' issues of gendered violence. The criminalisation of sex work and prostitution is rarely discussed in this context—a rather odd omission given the increasing trend towards 'criminalising demand' and counter-calls for decriminalisation in this domain. In this article, we bring the two debates into conversation, using Goodmark's work to bring analytical clarity to the prostitution debate and connect sex work to wider social justice debates in feminist anti-violence circles. We aim to move the conversation beyond retribution and the view that law is justice to outline a vision of justice for sex workers grounded in the principles of rights, recognition and representation. By contextualising the decriminalisation of prostitution within the framework of a wider anti-carceral justice movement, we seek to build alliances for social justice that transcend the current divide.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-65
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy
Volume10
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021

Keywords

  • criminalisation
  • decriminalisation
  • radical feminism
  • sex work
  • social justice
  • policy

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