Handbook on Gender and Social Policy
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Handbook on Gender and Social Policy

Edited by Sheila Shaver

Providing a state of the art overview, this comprehensive Handbook is an essential introduction to the subject of Gender and Social Policy. Bringing together original contributions and research from leading researchers it covers the theoretical perspectives of the field, the central policy terrain of gender inequalities of income, employment and care, and family policy. Examining gender and social policy at both the regional and national level, the Handbook is an excellent resource for advanced students and scholars of sociology, political science, women’s studies, policy studies as well as practitioners seeking to understand how gender shapes the contours of social policy and politics.
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Chapter 6: Policy reforms on prostitution: the quest for control

Joyce Outshoorn


Prostitution is generally understood as the exchange of sex or sexual services for money or other material benefits. States have always tried to control it, although their goals differed: to maintain law and order, guard morals, prevent venereal disease or protect women. With the rise of the modern sex industry since the 1970s, following the new era of globalization, prostitution is back on national and international agendas. Increased migration of ‘unattached’ women moving to more affluent parts of the world has also led to a new moral panic about the trafficking of women. The relationship between prostitution and trafficking is central to the debates. To those favouring the abolition of prostitution, prostitution drives trafficking. Those advocating legalization of prostitution regard it as work; much ‘trafficking’ is migration of women who sell sex to make a living. This chapter examines why there are no reliable figures on the number of sex workers and analyses the response of western states to the new sex markets. It provides an overview of prostitution policies, discussing the new trends of client criminalization and legalization, taking into account the observance of policies ‘on the ground’ as well as newer forms of governance involving non-state actors to control the sex industry.

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