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The Constitution of the Criminal Law$
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R.A. Duff, Lindsay Farmer, S.E. Marshall, Massimo Renzo, and Victor Tadros

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199673872

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199673872.001.0001

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Harm, Vulnerability, and Citizenship: Constitutional Concerns in the Criminalization of Contemporary Sex Work

Harm, Vulnerability, and Citizenship: Constitutional Concerns in the Criminalization of Contemporary Sex Work

Chapter:
(p.30) 3 Harm, Vulnerability, and Citizenship: Constitutional Concerns in the Criminalization of Contemporary Sex Work
Source:
The Constitution of the Criminal Law
Author(s):

Vanessa Munro

Jane Scoular

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199673872.003.0003

This chapter examines how the regulation of commercial sex markets in the UK have constituted forms of (sexual) citizenship, roles for criminal law, and bases of legitimacy for state intervention. The aim is to explore the discourses through which recent state initiatives designed to respond to prostitution have been constructed and defended. The chapter first outlines the nature of historical and more recent responses to prostitution in England and Wales. It then explores the ways in which the concept of ‘harm’ — traditionally viewed as a cornerstone of liberal approaches to criminalization, both in and beyond the context of prostitution — has been supplemented by, and reconfigured through, an increasing contemporary reliance upon the associated, but in important ways distinct, concept of vulnerability. It considers potential negative implications of contemporary discourses about, and responses to, prostitution for the lives of sex workers. It suggests that recent responses to the regulation of prostitution risk creating new, or further entrenching current, axes of vulnerability. The final section explores mechanisms to promote a more reflexive and inclusive use of the concepts of harm and vulnerability in the context of sex work. Emphasizing the need for policymakers, on-the-ground enforcers, and sex workers to engage legal mechanisms that exist outside of carceral and coercive confines, it reflects on what this re-constitution might mean for the contours and possibilities of both sexual citizenship and criminal law.

Keywords:   commercial sex markets, regulation, English law, criminal law, sexual citizenship, state intervention, constitution

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