Why Offences Specific to Prostitution are Unjustified

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The criminalisation of prostitution takes various forms: some offences target sex-workers, others are aimed at third-parties (pimps or advertisers) or criminalise clients for consumption. I argue that existing theories cannot justify any offences specific to prostitution; hence, either current prostitution-specific offences should be extended to other types of sexual relations or the criminalisation of prostitution should be abolished. I propose a ‘continuum’ of different scenarios in which consideration, either monetary or in-kind, was necessary for sexual relations to take place – from street prostitution to marriage solely based on financial interests. The absence of variables found in prostitution from the other scenarios on the continuum does not impinge on the normative flaw that existing theories attribute to prostitution. Consequently, even if existing theories can justify the criminalisation of prostitution, they cannot justify prostitution-specific offences because the same justification would over-inclusively apply to forms of sexual relations whose criminalisation is commonly regarded as unjustified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)879-905
Number of pages27
JournalModern Law Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 21 Dec 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law


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