et al.
Sexual Health Sexual Health Society
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REVIEW

Sex work and the law

Christine Harcourt A D , Sandra Egger B and Basil Donovan A C

A Sydney Sexual Health Centre, Sydney Hospital, PO Box 1614, Sydney, NSW 2001, Australia.

B School of Law, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

C School of Public Health, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: harcourtc@sesahs.nsw.gov.au

Sexual Health 2(3) 121-128 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/SH04042
Submitted: 29 September 2004  Accepted: 3 June 2005   Published: 20 September 2005

Abstract

We reviewed publications, websites, and field observations to explore the health and welfare impacts and administrative effectiveness of different legal approaches to sex work. We identified three broad legal approaches: (1) prohibition, including the unique Swedish law criminalising sex workers’ clients; (2) licensing; and (3) decriminalisation. Each of these models is employed under one or more jurisdictions in Australia. We make preliminary observations on their consequences and conclude that, on initial impression, decriminalisation may offer the best outcomes. However, more rigorous population-based research is needed to properly assess the health and welfare impacts of legal approaches to sex work.

Additional keywords: decriminalisation, legal responses, licensing, prohibition, prostitution.


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