As opposed to ‘sex work’, the term ‘prostitution’ is often associated with criminality, health risks and other anti-social traits, making it difficult to regulate officially or professionally within the conventions of socially and economically defined ‘work’. The use of the term ‘sex work’ is, thus, necessary to separate it from these negative connotations. The acknowledgement of the labour as ‘work’ is intricately linked to the acknowledgement of basic human rights and decent working conditions for women wage-earners.
The international feminist debates on sex work are divided into two distinct feminist camps. On one hand are the ‘neo-abolitionists’ for whom sex work equals trafficking and must be eliminated. On the other hand are the ‘sex work advocates’ (neo-regulationists and liberal feminists) who maintain that trafficking is coerced ‘prostitution’ while sex-work is a rightful and voluntary form of labour that should either be decriminalized or legalized. (There is a difference.)These two feminist camps propose polarized perspectives of ‘hurt and oppression’ and ‘choice and identity’ respectively.
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