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NCJ Number: 201452 Find in a Library
Title: Prostitution, the Sex Industry, and Sex Tourism (From Sourcebook on Violence Against Women, P 459-480, 2001, Claire M. Renzetti, Jeffrey L. Edleson, and Raquel K. Bergen, eds. -- See NCJ-201429)
Author(s): Jody Miller; Dheeshana Jayasundara
Date Published: 2001
Page Count: 22
Sponsoring Agency: Sage Publications, Inc
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
Sale Source: Sage Publications, Inc
2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
United States of America
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Book (Softbound)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This chapter provides an overview of the commercial sex industry in the United States and internationally, with attention to the impact of legal responses and organizational features in shaping women's experiences within prostitution, particularly their experiences of violence.
Abstract: Although the authors use the terms "prostitution" and "sex work" interchangeably throughout this chapter, they nonetheless recognize prostitution as a form of sexual labor and sex workers as human agents despite their subjection to stigma, victimization, and exploitation. Without taking an ethical position on the legitimacy of prostitution or its functions in support of patriarchal capitalism, this chapter focuses on the legal, social, and economic conditions under which prostitution occurs within racist, patriarchal, capitalist systems. The authors address how these conditions promote and contribute to violence against sex workers. Four legal paradigms have guided the legal response to prostitution: prohibition, abolition, legalization/regulation, and decriminalization. The prohibition model is widely believed to be the most oppressive for sex workers. This approach leaves women with no legal apparatus to defend themselves. Rarely do States enforce laws against traffickers, pimps, or clients, although women are routinely subjected to arrest and incarceration. The abolitionist approach calls for the elimination of laws against prostitution itself. Legalization/regulation is the predominant approach in a number of Western countries. Decriminalization is the paradigm advocated by many sex workers' rights organizations. In contrast to the abolitionist model, the argument for decriminalization emphasizes that prostitution is work and rejects the notion that sex workers are by definition victims. This model aims to criminalize exploitation, coercion, and violence against sex workers by third parties, while defining sex work as a legitimate occupation. With the exception of several counties in Nevada, prostitution remains criminalized in the United States. In 1996 there were 48,591 arrests of women for prostitution or commercialized vice in the United States. A common thread in the organization and control of the sex industry is that it is characterized by gender, race, and class inequalities, as well as power imbalances that result from colonial and imperialist relations across nations. In recent years, there have been a number of significant shifts in the organization of the commercial sex industry, each relevant to women's experience of violence within prostitution. In the United States the arrival of crack cocaine in urban markets in the mid-1980's altered the condition under which sex work is performed. Internationally, there has been an increased development and expansion of sex industries that cater primarily to Western and Japanese men who travel to Third World countries for business or leisure activities. This has been accompanied by an increase in trafficking of individuals for prostitution and the widespread involvement of children in the sex-tourism industry. As a consequence of conditions of illegal confinement and forced labor, women are subject to a range of abuses, including physical and sexual assault, as well as exposure to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Health care is minimal, and women who contract diseases are often discarded. Most activists and researchers agree that the key to improving the situation of women in the sex trade is to recognize the legitimacy of their work and to sanction those who exploit them. 5 notes and 80 references
Main Term(s): Female victims
Index Term(s): Decriminalization; Prostitution; Prostitution across international borders; Prostitution causes; Trafficking in Persons; Victims of violent crime
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