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Regulating sex work in the EU : prostitute women and the new spaces of exclusion

Hubbard, P. and Scoular, J. and Matthews, Roger (2008) Regulating sex work in the EU : prostitute women and the new spaces of exclusion. Gender, Place and Culture, 15 (2). pp. 137-152. ISSN 0966-369X

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Abstract

Contemporary prostitution policy within the European Union has coalesced around the view that female prostitution is rarely voluntary, and often a consequence of sex trafficking. Responding, different nation-states have, however, adopted antithetical legal positions based on prohibition (Sweden), abolition (UK) or legalisation (Netherlands). Despite the apparently sharp differences between these positions, in this article we argue that there is now a shared preoccupation with repressing spaces of street prostitution. Noting the forms of exploitation that nonetheless adhere to many spaces of off-street work, we conclude that the state and law may intervene in sex work markets with the intention of tackling gendered injustice, but are perpetuating geographies of exception and abandonment.