Law and Sexuality

A commentary and resource on Law and Sexuality by Professor Chris Ashford and guests

Tackling the Sex Work Punters

It’s been an interesting week as far as the law relating to sex work is concerned. I’ve been reluctant to post, instead spending quite a bit of time looking at the proposals, reviewing the comment and responses by academics and others and attempting to calm down from my initial reaction. The story kicked off on Wednesday with many papers reporting the story. The Guardian is as good an example as any, reporting the key points of government proposals as:

· Men to be prosecuted if they pay for sex with women who are trafficked or under control of a pimp
· Ignorance that woman was being controlled not to be a defence and conviction to carry hefty fine and criminal record
· Men who knowingly pay for sex with trafficked women may face rape charges
· First-time kerb crawlers face prosecution and naming and shaming

This was followed by an interview between Julie Bindell and Home Secretary Jacqui Smith in which the clear underlying aim is to undermine sex work more generally. In the surrounding stories sex work continues to be constructed as an activity undertaken by women and exploited by men. This continued limited analysis that ignores the role of men (both as sex workers and as clients of male sex workers) and women as clients (both of male and female workers)continues to depress me. An extended interview with Jacquie Smith was carried by the Guardian on Friday. You know it must be deeply flawed when former Home Secretary Michael Howard dubbed the measures “half-baked” and “unworkable” on the BBC programme, The Daily Politics. Not a man known for being at the liberal end of the political spectrum. Minette Marrin similarly goes on the offensive in the Sunday Times today. Marrin writes:

‘Once again this government is trying to override common sense, human nature and personal freedom in the interests of a policy not fit for purpose.’

I couldn’t agree more.


4 comments on “Tackling the Sex Work Punters

  1. Laura Agustín
    November 23, 2008

    I was one whose article was published the same day on the Guardian’s Comment is Free: The Shadowy World of Sex Across Borders, at might take comfort in the fact that the proposed legislation is completely unworkable in several ways, one of which will be the near impossibility of proving any given sex worker is controlled or trafficked. Best, Laura Agustín

  2. Law & Sexuality
    November 23, 2008

    Thanks Laura. BTW I love your blog!

  3. Laura Agustin
    November 24, 2008

    I’m sorry, Chris, I’ve just got well confused about where I posted what and put another comment on this somewhere else on your blog, which I really like! Not the naturists one, that’s worth staying, but somewhere else. I think. Oh and I see that the link isn’t clickable, is that something I can do on blogger? Groan, so much to learn.Best, Laura

  4. Law & Sexuality
    November 24, 2008

    No Laura, irritatingly you can’t (that I know) create clickable links in the comments section but I’ll pull them together in a post so they are clickable/more likely to be read. Cheers again.

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This entry was posted on November 23, 2008 by in Law, Politics, sex work.

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