Shifting Tides: Reimagining Sex Work, Law and Activism in the 21st Century

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King's College London




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Shifting Tides: Reimagining Sex Work, Law and Activism in the 21st Century

A Symposium at the Dickson Poon School of Law

King’s College London

June 15th 2016 @ the River Room

Organised by

Dr. Prabha Kotiswaran, Eva Klambauer and the Sex Work Research Hub

Supported by the

Dickson Poon School of Law

Twitter hashtag: #sexworkreg

Whether one should sell sex for money has long agitated debates amongst feminists, philosophers, law-makers and members of the lay public alike. Much ink has been spilt by varied stake-holders on arguing for and against various policy positions that we now recognize as criminalization, partial decriminalization, decriminalization and legalization. Meanwhile relatively new regimes of governance have infiltrated the sex work debates, crucial amongst them being the public health response to HIV as well as a fiercely punitive criminal justice strategy to combat human trafficking. Even as the Swedish model sweeps across Europe, there are signs of hope –in Scotland’s new Bill to decriminalize sex work and Jeremy Corbyn’s support for decriminalization. Bastions of liberalism such as human rights NGO Amnesty-International and the media giant the New York Times now support decriminalization. As the sex work debates exit the severely polarized corridors of feminist thinking to the mainstream of public opinion, we are delighted along with the Sex Work Research Hub to host sex workers, scholars, activists and policy-makers from the UK and around the world at King’s. Throughout the day, we will deliberate on developments in Europe, the Americas and Australia; we will think through and beyond the presumed centrality of criminal law to sex work and debate other equally crucial sites of law reform. We will take stock of laws and discourses e.g. trafficking that continually impede possibilities for enhancing sex workers’ rights and last but not the least, we will revisit sex workers’ disposition towards the law and their renewed vocabularies of resistance.


10:00 am: Registration

10:45-11:00am: Welcome by Professor Ben Bowling

Acting Dean, Dickson Poon School of Law

11:00 am -12:30 pm: Panel 1

International Sex Workers’ Activism: Lessons from Europe and Beyond

Chair: Vanessa Munro, University of Leicester

Defending and improving the legal regulation of the sex industry in New South Wales, Australia

Penny Crofts, University of Technology, Sydney

Lessons of the Swedish Model and the Criminalisation of the Purchase of Sex

Jay Levy, Independent Researcher

Sex worker interest representation through unionisation

Gregor Gall, University of Bradford

‘Nothing about us without us!’

Luca Stevenson, Coordinator, International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE)

12:30 – 1 pm: Lunch provided

1- 2:30 pm: Panel 2

Beyond Criminal Law: Rethinking the Regulation of Sex Work in the UK

Chair: Belinda Brooks-Gordon, University of Birkbeck

Beyond Regulation & Policing?: Sex Work in the Digital Age

Teela Sanders, University of Leicester & Rosie Campbell, Durham University

‘The law is not there to protect us’ – Mapping Sex Workers’ Legal Consciousness in England

Eva Klambauer, King’s College London

Time, space and the regulation of sex work: why does municipal law matter?

Phil Hubbard, University of Kent

Sex Work, Hyper Precarity, and the Limits of Labour Law

Katie Cruz, University of Leeds

2:30 - 2:45 pm: Coffee

2:45 - 4:00 pm: Panel 3

Trafficking and the Persistence of Sex Work Exceptionalism

Chair: Prabha Kotiswaran, King’s College London

It’s Blue and It’s Up to You! Policy narratives and federal anti-trafficking awareness campaigns in the United States

Samantha Majic, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Confronting the (neo)abolitionist wave: organized sex workers in Córdoba-Argentina

Marisa Fassi, Università Degli Studi di Milano

Between Sexual Humanitarianism and Moral Gentrification: Understanding the Impact of Clients’ Criminalisation on Sex Workers in France and the UK

Nicola Mai, University of Kingston

4:00 - 4:15 pm: Coffee

4:15 – 5:30 pm: Panel 4

Lobbying for Sex Work: Survival, Health and Enforcement

Chair: Kate Hardy, University of Leeds

UK Laws governing sex work: an ideological approach to making them and a patchwork approach to enforcing them

Alex Feis-Bryce, National Ugly Mugs

Sex Work: A perspective from health promotion

Georgina Perry, Manager NHS project Open Doors

Organising to end the criminalisation of sex work and survival

Laura Watson, English Collective of Prostitutes

5:30 – 5:45 pm: Coffee

5:45 – 7 pm: Panel 5

Reimagining Sex work and the Law: Exploring Participatory Methods and Political Futures

Chair: Luca Stevenson, ICRSE

Decriminalisation of Sex Work and Social Justice: participatory and arts based research and the importance of working together to create change

Maggie O’Neill, University of York and Mary Laing, Northumbria University

Photography and the business of sex

Camille Melissa, commercial photographer and sex worker

Amnesty International’s policy on sex work and the potential for political change

Catherine Murphy, Policy Advisor, Amnesty International

7 –8 pm: Wine Reception

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