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International approaches to prostitution

International approaches to prostitution: Law and policy in Europe and Asia

Geetanjali Gangoli
Nicole Westmarland
Copyright Date: 2006
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  • Book Info
    International approaches to prostitution
    Book Description:

    What is to be done about prostitution? Is it work or is it violence? Are women involved in prostitution offenders or victims? Is prostitution a private or a political issue? The answers to these questions vary depending on many factors, including where in the world you live. This book provides a valuable, detailed international comparison of the laws, policies and interventions in eight countries across Europe (England and Wales, France, Sweden and Moldova) and Asia (India, Pakistan, Thailand and Taiwan). The countries were chosen because of their contrasting social policy and legislative frameworks. Specific topics covered include national social and historical contexts in relation to prostitution; legal frameworks - with discussion of existing laws and policies and debates around legislation and decriminalisation; key issues faced - particularly relating to reasons for entering prostitution and analysis of policies and interventions. The case studies are brought to life by giving voice to the experiences of women involved in prostitution themselves together with the personal reflections of the authors. Aimed at a wide audience of students, academics, policy makers and practitioners, this book makes an important contribution to academic and policy debates in the fields of criminology, law, social policy, women's studies, sociology, politics and international relations.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-158-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iii)
  3. List of tables and boxes
    (pp. iv-iv)
  4. Notes on contributors
    (pp. v-viii)
  5. ONE Introduction: approaches to prostitution
    (pp. 1-18)
    Nicole Westmarland and Geetanjali Gangoli

    In no particular order, these are some of the many terms used to describe women involved in prostitution. What is immediately evident is how many different terms there are; there are far more words to describe women who sell sex than there are for men who purchase it. But there is another purpose for starting the book with this list of terms – to demonstrate how the words that are used to talk about prostitution reflect different approaches to prostitution.

    Pick up a book or article about prostitution and the general approach to prostitution that the author is taking soon becomes...

  6. Part One: Europe

    • TWO From the personal to the political: shifting perspectives on street prostitution in England and Wales
      (pp. 21-44)
      Nicole Westmarland

      In July 2004, the Home Office announced the largest review of prostitution law and policy since the 1950s. The aim of the review was to provide a basis on which a realistic and coherent strategy to prostitution could be developed. Similar consultations and reforms had just been completed in relation to other forms of violence against women, including domestic violence, rape and other sexual offences. Based on findings from Home Office evaluations (Hester and Westmarland, 2004) a consultation paper calledPaying the pricewas published (Home Office, 2004). In his foreword to the consultation David Blunkett (Home Secretary at the...

    • THREE Prostitution in France
      (pp. 45-66)
      Gill Allwood

      Prostitution has been high on the public and political agenda in France since the late 1990s. This is due to a number of factors, including: the impact of UN debates and initiatives on related issues, especially child prostitution and pornography, and trafficking in human beings; the growing acceptance in international fora of a distinction between ‘free’ and ‘forced’ prostitution, which the dominant abolitionist position in France rejects; and changing patterns of migration, which have led to an increase in the number of migrant women and girls on the streets of French cities. Internally, there has been a rise in security...

    • FOUR Prostitution in Sweden: debates and policies 1980-2004
      (pp. 67-90)
      Yvonne Svanström

      Discussion around whether prostitution should be regulated, legalised or criminalised has had a long history in Sweden (Svanström, 2000 and 2005). In 1999 a new and unique law was introduced that criminalised only the ‘buyers’ of prostitution (1999 Act Prohibiting the Purchase of Sexual Services). Challenging the traditional view that those (generally women) who ‘sell’ sex are the greatest problem, the new law also hoped to see a reduction in the level of prostitution:

      The Swedish government has explicitly noted that the female body cannot be looked upon as merchandise which can be bought or sold.... All trade is based...

    • FIVE The Republic of Moldova: prostitution and trafficking in women
      (pp. 91-112)
      Kristina Abiala

      To understand prostitution in Moldova we have to trace it back to the Soviet period from 1940, through the years following its independence in 1991 and up to the beginning of the twenty-first century. From being seen as alien to the state and not officially discussed to being considered a dangerous social vice, prostitution is now discussed mainly within the sexual trafficking agenda. Within this agenda are a number of questions, such as: can prostitution be justified? Why does it exist, and will it stop? Why are young women leaving Moldova? Are they deceived or forced? Do they know what...

  7. Part Two: Asia

    • SIX Prostitution in India: laws, debates and responses
      (pp. 115-140)
      Geetanjali Gangoli

      India plays a central role today in the economic, social and political infrastructure of South Asia. However, it is a land of contrasts, where great wealth coexists with grinding and devastating poverty; where violence against women is rampant even though a vital and active feminist movement fights for women’s rights; where sexuality is celebrated in the erotic temple sculptures of Konark, and in ancient texts such as the Kamasutra (Art of Love) and there is widespread sexual repression and control over women’s sexuality.

      Prostitution in India has taken myriad forms historically, and in the current contemporary context. In the pre-colonial...

    • SEVEN Good women, bad women: prostitution in Pakistan
      (pp. 141-164)
      Fouzia Saeed

      Culturally and historically, Pakistan is very much a part of South Asia. Over the centuries, the subcontinent was divided, and redivided, into several independent states by different invaders. It is only since 1947, however, that Pakistan has taken on a distinct identity as a separate country with its own distinct sovereignty. In these last 55 years it has evolved its own specific cultural features, firstly as a Muslim state and secondly because of its own distinct political and economic developments.

      Although prostitution is a universal phenomenon, in the subcontinent it acquired a unique form. It comes closest to the geisha...

    • EIGHT Selling bodies/selling pleasure: the social organisation of sex work in Taiwan
      (pp. 165-184)
      Mei-Hua Chen

      In daily practice, prostitution is simply the explicit selling and buying of sex. However, if we reduce the complex social practices of prostitution to sex we will fail to examine the economic, political and ideological underpinnings of prostitution, that is, the social problems that underlie it. As O’Connell Davidson has argued, ‘the ills associated with prostitution can be addressed only through far broader political struggles to rid the world of poverty, racism, homophobia and sexism’ (1998, p 189). This chapter will discuss the historical development of prostitution in Taiwan, the legal and feminist responses to prostitution, and some projections on...

    • NINE Prostitution in Thailand: perceptions and realities
      (pp. 185-208)
      Alyson Brody

      An article published in theFinancial Timesin 1987, describing Bangkok, remarked that ‘there are marvellous restaurants wonderful shopping … and, of course, there is the sex …’ (Financial Times, 1987). In the intervening years, this perception of Thailand has prevailed, despite the efforts of the Thai government to play down this association.

      While this chapter talks about prostitution in Thailand, it also highlights certain tensions involved in attempting to say what Thai prostitution is, and how and why people become involved in prostitution. The chapter stresses that, while it is possible to make broad statements about prostitution in Thailand...

  8. Index
    (pp. 209-214)