chapter  10
20 Pages

The ‘normal’ and the ‘other’ woman of prostitution policy debates

161New concerns and solutions
WithMay-Len Skilbrei

This chapter demonstrates how women who sell sex were presented in two main discourses and policy processes in Norway in the mid-2000s. While prostitution in one discourse was defined as a form of exploitation and even seen as violence that men subject women to, the other discourse represented women who sell sex as someone that by their actions victimise others, both other sex workers, other women from their own nationality, men who are not looking to buy sex and the reputation of cities and the national brand. The most evident difference between the two discourses was how the first one related to prostitution in general, while the second dealt specifically with the prostitution of Nigerian women. The policy implication of seeing prostitution as exploitation and violence was to criminalise the buyer, while the problem definition in the second debate points more towards directing punitive measures towards the sex seller, and this is what happened in debates on whether the city of Oslo should introduce police by-laws prohibiting selling sex in a public and offensive way. This chapter discusses how it came to be that two discourses with such different definitions of, and solutions to, ‘the problem of prostitution’ could co-exist.