The extent and scope of legal restrictions on prostitution and sex work differ enormously depending on location. Some countries such as Germany have legalised sex work, while New Zealand has adopted decriminalisation. A position that is significantly different from legalisation (legalisation involves state control and regulation; while decriminalisation means that there are no criminal penalties for carrying out sex work.) Other locations carry out an abolitionist approach to sex work. In the UK, some aspects of sex work are legal. But third-party involvement is illegal; while in Norway, Sweden and France (under a system commonly known as 'the Nordic model'), buying sexual services is illegal, in an attempt to criminalise buyers rather than sex workers. Finally, there is the prohibitionist approach, seen in the majority of US states and in other countries, including Russia, China and Saudi Arabia, where all aspects of sex work are illegal. As one might imagine, the many different approaches to sex work and the vastly different legal restrictions on this field have been the subject of a great deal of contentious debate. Discussions on whether sex work should be legalised, criminalised or decriminalised have been a significant part of feminist discourse since the movement's second wave, with strong opinions from all sides. Many second-wave feminists have viewed sex work as violence against women under all circumstances, and favour an abolitionist approach, while third-wave and intersectional feminists have leaned more towards decriminalisation. Currently, the public debate around legal restrictions on sex work has focused on neo-abolitionism versus decriminalisation; the 'Nordic Model' versus the removal of criminal penalties for sex workers. Supporters of the Nordic Model argue that this legal framework means that the social stigma of sex work is shifted to pimps and clients, rather than the sex workers themselves, thus making it easier for sex workers both to report crimes against them and to work towards leaving the sex industry. However, the Nordic Model has been widely critiqued by pro-decriminalisation groups, including SWARM (Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement) and Amnesty International. Following an extensive study into the impact of the Nordic Model in Norway and Sweden. Amnesty International concluded that criminalising the buying of sexual services, in fact, harmed the safety of sex workers. Putting them at higher risk of violence by forcing them to work in areas with a lower police presence, and spend less time screening prospective clients for any red-flag behaviour. Amnesty's researchers concluded that there was substantial evidence to suggest that 'human rights abuses against [sex workers] are compounded by and, in some cases, directly caused by the legal framework' that composes the Nordic model. SWARM, a collective made up of sex workers advocating for their human and labour rights, argue that any criminalisation of sex work has a damaging effect on sex workers. Placing them in greater danger of violence, and potentially leading to other consequences such as eviction from accommodation or deportation from the sex worker's country of residence. SWARM, like Amnesty International, advocate for full decriminalisation, including the overturning of laws that criminalise soliciting, renting premises for sex work, and working with other sex workers (something that is often done for safety). While there is a large amount of high-profile support for the Nordic model, the fact that sex worker collectives and a major human rights organisation support a model of full decriminalisation suggests that the legal restrictions on sex work that currently apply should be overturned. The safety of sex workers and their right to work and live free from social and legal sanctions as a result of their work must always be paramount, and criminalisation of any kind has always proven to be detrimental to this right to safety and security.
Answer by: Alice