Removing fear of crime

The role of regulation in creating safer spaces for sex workers

Authored by: Teela Sanders , Lynzi Armstrong

The Routledge International Handbook on Fear of Crime

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  December  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138120334
eBook ISBN: 9781315651781
Adobe ISBN:


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The levels of violence that sex workers experience, particularly on the street, is overwhelming and there is robust evidence to suggest that ways in which the sex industry is regulated have a significant impact on the levels of violence (Brents and Hausbeck 2005; Van Doorninck and Campbell 2006). A decriminalised model supports the safety and rights of sex workers and starts to move towards the process of making sex work a safer activity. Yet the intersections between regulation and safety are complex as there is not a violence-proof regulatory system that ensures the safety of sex workers. In this chapter, we discuss this premise drawing on empirical evidence from two case studies: the first from the decriminalised system of New Zealand and the second, findings from an evaluation of the first formal Managed Area for street sex work in the United Kingdom. By using these two models of regulation as examples of alternatives to criminalisation, alongside teasing out some of the positive aspects, we examine why violence persists and the dynamics of the fear of crime continue in these post-criminalised contexts. After setting out these two case studies, the chapter concludes with two main points: first to stress the social and cultural conditions under which violence remains a daily experience for street sex workers even within more liberal systems; and second, to think through the solutions to reducing the fear of crime, actual violence and enabling safer spaces for sex work. Finally, we discuss the complexities of the regulation and policing of sex work within the broader context of violence against women and draw on hate crime concepts to further understand the continual targeting of this group.

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