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Sex Work and the Law: Does the Law Matter?


Special Issue of the International Journal of Gender, Sexuality and Law

Special Issue Editors: Laura Graham (Northumbria University), Mary Laing (Northumbria University), and Victoria Holt (Roehampton University). 
Much has been written on the relationship between law and sex work. Mirroring global and national sex worker campaigns, official consultations and policy, and wider debates over the last two decades, there has been much academic interest in the legal responses to sex work (Scoular and O’Neill, 2007; Graham, 2017; Munro and Della Giusta (eds), 2008). Much of this work has evaluated the current legal response(s) to sex work, how they impact sex workers’ lives, and how the law might be reformed. There is also significant academic and governmental interest in comparative research looking at legal responses across jurisdictions (Armstrong and Abel (eds), 2020; Levy, 2014).
This Special Issue aims to take a wider and more critical approach to the relationship between sex work and the law, drawing on Jane Scoular’s (2015) question: does the law matter in sex work? In doing so, this Special Issue aims to offer an interdisciplinary exploration of the many-layered relationship between law and sex work. This Special Issue invites papers that draw upon a variety of disciplines, including law, sociology, criminology, psychology, public health, politics, cultural studies, media studies, gender and sexuality studies, and geography. Research could consider (although is not limited to) the following themes:

Sex work in the time of COVID-19

Regulation and its impacts

Local governance

Longitudinal studies of sex workers’ motivation and policy

New forms of regulation and their impact on sex work and sex workers

Access to justice for sex workers

Crime against sex workers and responses to it

Welfare laws, housing laws, employment laws and their impact on sex work

Sex worker unionizing, activism and resistance

Risk and risk-minimisation in sex work

Sex work, Brexit and migration

This Special Issue welcomes, inter alia, traditional academic articles (8,000-10,000 words), dialogue pieces and roundtables, shorter non-academically focused think-pieces or commentaries, and reviews. We particularly welcome contributions from sex workers and sex work activists (both within and outside of the academy), and offer support, pairing and mentoring opportunities where desired (please state in your abstract if you would like to be paired or mentored). 

Deadline for the submission of abstracts: 12th March 2021.
Please send abstracts to Mary Laing at mary.laing@northumbria.ac.uk 
Any questions, please contact Laura Graham at  laura.n.graham@northumbria.ac.uk or Victoria Holt Holtv@roehampton.ac.uk