A Social-Legal Analysis of Reforms in the Regulation of Sex Work: The Case Study of End Demand Legislation in Israel

Hila Shamir, Inga Thiemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article proposes an innovative approach to analysing legal and policy reforms in the regulation of sex work. Using the development of the Israeli 2019 Prohibition on the Consumption of Prostitution Act (hereinafter: End Demand Law) as a case study, we develop a socio-legal analytical framework which combines three elements: 1) the relationship between the “law on the books” and the “law in action” in the context of sex work policy – what are the distributive outcomes of the act? How is it implemented, who gets impacted by it, to which degree and why? 2) the importance of existing legal and policy baselines to evaluate new policy approaches. We argue that the baseline is key not only to understanding policy trajectories, but also to evaluating differences in perception of ‘End Demand’ legislation in different jurisdictions; 3) the lived experience of those affected by the policy. In our case study, sex workers are the population most directly impacted - we include their voices through interviews as well as secondary sources and focus on their perception of the law and its impact on their lives, options, livelihoods, and feminism.

Combining these three elements, our analytical framework is used to evaluate the dynamics of change in the regulation of sex work in the context of the Israeli End Demand Law - how it came about, which baselines it emerged from and which international influences affected it, but also how Israeli anti-prostitution governance feminists influenced the legislative and policymaking process. We pay equal attention to sex workers’ voices not only as the most affected population, but also as political actors, activists and aspiring governance feminists in the Israeli context, who were marginalised in the legislative process.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)19-47
JournalInternational Journal of Gender, Sexuality and Law
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


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