chapter  10
15 Pages

The ruse of sexual freedom: neoliberalism, self-ownership and commercial sex

ByLETICIA SABSAY

This policy has become even more overtly implemented in parallel with the steady empowerment of militarized security forces in the context of a renewed

worldwide trend for criminalizing social protest, and the concomitant spread of paranoid discourses linking ‘safety’ to ‘social order’. As Laurie Penny reminded us, citing Emma Goldman, it is not surprising that in the midst of the current economic crisis, where conditions of life are systematically undermined under the auspices of austerity policies, ‘moral crusades’ provoking intense and passionate debates such as the sex-work controversy have become good, diverting political goals to promote (Penny 2013). It was in this adverse context, in December 2013, that we witnessed the Soho raids in downtown London, in which at least 18 safe sex-work places were closed down, and where, by the way, a new mixed-use property development has been underway since 2012.1 This news was broadcast at the same time as the media coverage of the systematic raids being carried out in France and Ireland.2 Certainly, the situation had intensified, with the European Union planning a reform of the legislation on sex work to criminalize the purchase of sexual services at that time. On 24 February 2014, the European Parliament finally passed the resolution which, following the so-called Swedish model, criminalizes clients instead of sellers.3 This conservative move regarding the sex industry comes as no surprise, and does not augur well for sex workers. The measure, as sex workers have repeatedly denounced, will not improve their situation, but will further precarize their work conditions and, furthermore, will reinforce the rejection of sex workers’ demands for the decriminalization of commercial sex both at local and international levels.4