Ending the War Against Sex Work: Why it’s time to decriminalize prostitution Article
Date of Publication:
Linda S. Anderson, Ending the War Against Sex Work: Why it’s time to decriminalize prostitution, 21 U. Md. L.J. Race Relig. Gender & Class 72 (2021)Clicking on the button will copy the full recommended citation.
Efforts to decriminalize sex work have gained momentum recently. After years of abolitionist rhetoric inflaming the public by conflating consensual sex work with human trafficking, sex workers and their allies are making themselves heard. The debate about whether exchanging sex for money should be legal is drawing attention. Sex worker advocates have gathered data to support their assertions that sex workers are harmed by efforts to eliminate an activity that has existed for as long as people have lived in communities.
This article reviews the short history of the criminalization of prostitution, providing a glimpse into the reasons it was criminalized in the first place. Like many efforts to legitimize personal decisions about intimate behaviors, discussions of sex work initially focused on whether fundamental rights to liberty and privacy mandated decriminalization. The article explains those positions and why decriminalization arguments based solely on privacy and liberty interests have not made progress. Ultimately, the article incorporates data about sex workers’ experiences and the work of sex workers and their close allies to provide documented reasons that continued criminalization is harmful and full decriminalization of sex work will reduce that harm