Prostitution, Harm and Gender Inequality: Theory, Research and Policy

June 1, 2012

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Prostitution, Harm and Gender Inequality” brings together international research exploring the range of gendered harms to women involved in prostitution and the consequences of growth of the sex industry for global gender relations. While there is an increasing amount of research and academic output on prostitution, the current focus is often on discussion and critique of policy frameworks, and contemporary debates over harm are largely limited to sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of children. Less attention is paid to questions of how the sex industry perpetuates notions of objectification and male entitlement with respect to sexual access to women’s bodies, despite being key feminist concerns for several decades. This position has become effectively marginalized, but the global growth and industrialization of the sex industry requires a return to these questions. Through exploring gendered inequality and re-engaging with an understanding of prostitution as harmful with impacts on the self and body that are experienced as abusive but do not always constitute violence, this book introduces a range of research and thinking, while also drawing on existing literature to explore the consequences of prostitution for women in the sex industry and wider gender relations. These issues are discussed with regard to: coercion and recruitment, including trafficking; notions of male entitlement in accounts of men who buy sex; critical interrogations of agency and choice; legal and policy frameworks; and, representations of prostitution in popular culture.

  • Authors:
    Maddy Coy