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The social construction of sex trafficking

August 28th, 2007

Dr Petra

A new discussion paper by Ronald Weitzer just out in the journal Politics and Society disputes mainstream views around prostitution and sex trafficking. Entitled ‘The social construction of sex trafficking: ideology and institutionalisation of a moral crusade’ Weitzer tackles a number of well known claims about prostitution. In particular he critiques the lack of data behind claims made by anti-prostitution campaigners; highlights parallels between the anti prostitution (and porn) movements and the religious right in the US; and discusses how under current political climates anti prostitution groups have managed to make changes to policy, practice and grant giving based on evidence that sounds terrifying but may not be based on accurate or representative testimony.

The paper should be read by anyone with an interest in sex work – whether one is opposed to prostitution or pornography or not. The paper does make for challenging reading and most certainly will be disapproved of by those seeking an end to prostitution. Weitzer is careful to point out that in criticising the anti prostitution movements he is not seeing all prostitution as harmless. Nevertheless some of his arguments will make for unsettling reading simply because they challenge views that have become part of our political landscape recently.

You can access the paper here, and if you work with those involved in prostitution or are a sex worker yourself you may well wish to debate the issues raised with colleagues or coworkers.

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