Archive | November 2015

Sex Work: Radical Feminism vs Liberal Feminism

Sex work and human trafficking are frequently conflated in international arenas and spaces in which global governance is produced(Almeida, 2011, p. 229; Baye & Heumann, p. 78; Limoncelli, 2009, p. 261; O’Brien, 2015, p. 191; Saunders, 2005, p. 344). This essay will investigate the strengths, weaknesses and alternatives to Amnesty International’s approach to sex work and in particular how debates around sex work affect spaces in which global governance is produced.

I will argue that while on an ideological level, Amnesty’s model does little to challenge the pervasive gendered super structure within which sex work is located, its focus on harm minimisation and the human rights of those involved is better than abolitionist alternatives.

I will do this by first explaining the theoretical debate between radical feminism/neo-abolitionism and liberal feminism/the human rights model and why this matters. Secondly I will show how the ideological infighting between feminists obscures the multidimensional nature of human trafficking and its effects on global governance. Thirdly I will make recommendations of alternatives to policy which Amnesty could lobby for states in order to minimise harm.

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