The war on sex work

Lorelei Lee in n + 1:

I didn’t know it at the time, but that fall my body was the site of international debate about sex, work, poverty, and consent. In 2000, two pieces of legislation were passed that marked a new era in the criminalization of sex work: the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) and the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

Feminists stood on both sides of the debate. Radical feminists and the religious right insisted that “voluntary prostitution” was an oxymoron and fought for both the UN Protocol and the TVPA to legally define all sex trading as nonconsensual sex trafficking. Liberal feminists and human rights organizations pushed to maintain a legal divide between voluntary and involuntary sex work. In the end, the liberal feminists won at the UN, but the TVPA offered a sweeping definition of sex trafficking as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.” The definition included both voluntary and involuntary commercial sex, but, as a compromise, only criminalized “severe forms of trafficking in persons.” Severe forms were defined as circumstances in which “force, fraud, or coercion” were used.

More here.