Harm Reduction and Decriminalization of Sex Work
This special section of Sexuality Research and Social Policy, edited by Belinda Brooks-Gordon, Max Morris and Teela Sanders, has its origins in a colloquium sponsored by the University of Cambridge Socio-Legal Group in 2020. The goal was to promote the exchange of ideas between a variety of disciplinary research fields and applied perspectives on harm reduction and the decriminalization of sex work. The colloquium took place during the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic in February 2020.
We explore the impact of Covid-19 on understandings of sex work, outline the basic underpinning legal philosophical question, explore the intersectional politics of decriminalization, summarize contemporary international health and human rights campaigns, explore contemporary public opinion trends on the issue, and illustrate the universal principles. Finally, we summarize the special section papers (N=12).
The Covid pandemic provided a lens through which to analyse the changes that have occurred in sex work and sex work research in the past decade and it also exacerbated intersecting inequalities, accelerated many social shifts already in motion whilst changing the course of others. In combination the papers in this special issue examine sex work policy and research across 12 countries in four continents to provide and important space for international and cross-cultural comparison.
We present the timely contributions of diverse authors and comment on the significance of their research projects which support a decriminalization policy agenda for the benefit of academics, policymakers and practitioners to improve public health strategies and international responses.
The research here amplifies the focus on harm reduction and strengthens the case for public policy that decriminalizes commercial sex between consenting adults as the best strategy to reduce harm.
Cambridge Socio-Legal Group
Author affiliationSchool of Criminology, University of Leicester
- VoR (Version of Record)