Regulating prostitution: controlling women's lives

Phoenix, Joanna (2006). Regulating prostitution: controlling women's lives. In: Heidensohn, Frances ed. Gender and Justice: New concepts and approaches. Willan Publishing, pp. 76–95.



The gendered nature of prostitution and the violence, exploitation and criminalisation that women experience when selling sex have been contentious issues for the last couple of decades, for academics and feminist campaigners alike. The debates have centred on a relatively limited range of questions focused on how to explain or conceptualise prostitution. What remains unquestioned, however, is that it is the women in prostitution who bear the brunt of regulation and punishment. Based on decades of empirical research, the last 30 years have seen a concerted effort by feminist scholars and campaigners to bring pressure on successive governments to address the vulnerability faced by women in prostitution. The aim of this chapter is to examine how prostitution – or rather street prostitution – is contemporarily regulated and the gendered nature and impact of that regulation.

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