1st Edition

Feminism, Prostitution and the State The Politics of Neo-Abolitionism

Edited By Eilis Ward, Gillian Wylie Copyright 2017
    172 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    172 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This edited volume focuses on charting the rise of neo-abolitionism and offering a critique of the idea, its logics and consequences. A model of state policy which aims to abolish prostitution through legislation, Neo-abolitionism criminalises the buyer of sex but not the seller. It is currently law in Sweden and other Nordic states and dominates the framing of policy debates in many other Western liberal contexts. Pressure for adoption of this policy has come from radical feminists who understand prostitution and sex trafficking as a form of violence against women.

    This volume argues that this convergence between radical feminism and state’s interests arises from the emergence of, on the one hand, ‘governance feminism’ which seeks to have its ideals implemented through ‘top-down sovereigntist means’, and on the other hand, state’s interests in legitimising stricter border controls and law enforcement responses in relation to transnational organised criminality, ‘illegal’ migration, and security.

    Based around a series of country case studies each chapter will explore the politics surrounding the emergence of neo-abolitionism and its trajectory through those polities, whether the paradigm has been adopted, rejected or is still under debate. The volume will be of great interest to students and scholars of Social and Public Policy, Gender and Women’s Studies, Politics and International Relations and Critical Legal Studies/Criminology.



    Introduction: Introducing Neo-abolitionism: Definition, Drivers and Debates

    [Eilís Ward and Gillian Wylie]

    1: Neo-abolitionism and transnational advocacy networks: globalizing an idea

    [Gillian Wylie]

    2: From Contested to Consensus: Swedish Politics on Prostitution and Trafficking

    [Yvonne Swanström]

    3: The Netherlands: Analyzing shifts and continuities in the governing of sexual labour

    [Silke Heumann, Sara Vida Coumans, Tamar Shiboleth & Marieke Ridder]

    4: Strange Confluences: Radical feminism and evangelical Christianity as drivers of US neo-abolitionism

    [Crystal A. Jackson, Jennifer J. Reed and Barbara G. Brents]

    5: The Irish Parliament and Prostitution Law Reform: A Neo-Abolitionism Shoe-in?

    [Eilís Ward]

    6: Almost Abolitionism: The Peculiarities of Prostitution Policy in England and Wales

    [Anna Carline and Jane Scoular]

    7: Against the Trend: Resistance to Neo-abolitionism in Australian Anti-trafficking Policy Debates

    [Erin O’Brien]

    8: In search of a fair and free society: the regulation of sex work in New Zealand

    [Gillian Abel]

    Conclusion: Carceral feminism, the state and the sex worker in a globalised era. Whose Power?

    [Eilís Ward and Gillian Wylie]


    Gillian Wylie is Assistant Professor of International Peace Studies, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

    Eilís Ward is Lecturer in the School of Political Science and Sociology NUIG, Galway, Republic of Ireland.