“All countries should work toward decriminalization of sex work”: A Feminist Analysis on New Zealand’s Decriminalisation and Sweden’s Criminalisation and the Unfinished Sexual Rights Agenda
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In 2012, The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended that “All countries should work towards decriminalisation of sex work”. Currently, New Zealand (NZ) is the only nation that has decriminalised sex work (SW). The Guttmacher institute notes that there is an “Unfinished Sexual Rights Agenda”, despite impressive global progression. The major study question asks to what extent does criminalisation and decriminalisation constrain and enable sex workers in achieving full sexual and reproductive health rights? This comparative analysis is made through examining polarising frameworks of the New Zealand Model (NZM), and the Swedish Model. The research question is addressed by conducting a thematic analysis on studies and policy reviews within NZ and Sweden, from an online database search. Feminist theory is used to guide the analysis of findings along with an amended harm reduction framework that guides the discussion. It was found that although NZ have made progression toward the WHO’s recommendation and have contributed to closing a gap in the unfinished sexual rights agenda, the issue of chronic stigma surrounding SW remains. Recommendations for the WHO, and both countries of NZ and Sweden have been made, along with recommendations for the UK to help guide their decision in which framework to adopt. To decrease stigma, NZ should upscale the approach in decriminalisation and provide better support provision for sex workers. Sweden is recommended to measure harm for sex workers within the current environment. The UK is encouraged to conduct primary research into both polarising frameworks, but ultimately move toward the NZM.