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Literature review

Often in discussion on sex work law and policy I see sex workers and allies, who know SESTA-FOSTA, the Nordic model, and criminalisation, harms sex workers, grappling for data or research to support their words.


This is a collection of research from academics or respected organisations on documenting the harms of sex work criminalisation, SESTA-FOSTA and Nordic model implementation. Hopefully it might provide a handy resource for sex workers and their allies when needing to demonstrate and support their case.

Here is a regularly updated reference list, arranged in alphabetical order, which opens as a Pdf. Please feel free to use and share - Link

(work in progress)


Below is an unsorted selection of research evidence from the reference list above.

Crago A. L. (2008). Our Lives Matter: Sex Workers Unite for Health and Rights. Open Society Institute Public Health Program - Link

Crago 2 2008

Cunningham S., Shah M. (2014). Decriminalizing indoor prostitution: implications for sexual violence and public health. The national bureau of economic research (NBER) working paper 20281 - Link

Cunningham 2014

Howard S. (2018). Better health for sex workers: which legal model causes least harm? British Medical Journal 361:k2609 - Link

Howard 2018

Levy J., Jakobsson P. (2014). Sweden’s abolitionist  discourse and law: Effects on the dynamics of Swedish sex work and on the lives of Sweden’s sex workers. Criminology & Criminal Justice - Link

Levey and Jakobsson 2014

Supplementary written evidence submitted by National Ugly Mugs. (2016) Home Affairs Committee Prostitution inquiry PRO0244 - Link

parliament ugly mug evidence

Abel G., Fitzgerald L., Brunton C. (2007) The impact of the Prostitution Reform Act on the health and safety practices of sex workers: report to the Prostitution Law Review Committee. Health Research Council and Ministry of Justice, New Zealand - Link

abel 2

Amnesty International (2016) Amnesty International policy on state obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of sex workers - Link

Amnesty decrim 2016

Danna, D (2012) ‘Client-Only Criminalization in the City of Stockholm: A Local Research on the Application of the “Swedish Model” of Prostitution Policy’, in Sexuality Research and Social Policy 9(1), 80-93 - Link

Danna 2012

Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW). (2011). Moving Beyond ‘Supply and Demand’ Catchphrases: Assessing the uses and limitations of demand-based approaches in Anti-Trafficking - Link

gaatw 1 gaatw 4 gaatw 2 gaatw 3

Hester M., Westmarland N. (2004). Tackling Street Prostitution: towards an holistic approach. Home Office Research Study 279 - Link (I dislike many aspects of this article, but the gist that better results come from listening to and working with sex workers instead of using police and law, is a good noise to make).

Hester 2004

Jordan J. (2005). Sex Industry in New Zealand: A Literature Review. Commissioned by the Ministry of Justice to provide an assessment of the state of the sex industry in New Zealand - Link

Jordan 2005

Chu S. K. H., Glass R. (2013-14). Sex Work Law Reform in Canada: considering problems with the ‘Nordic Model’. Alberta Law Review 51:101-124 - Link

Chu 2013 1 Chu 2013 2 Chu 2013 3 Chu 2013 4 Chu 2013 5

Krüsi A., Pacey K., Bird L., Taylor C., Chettiar J., Allan S., Bennett D., Montaner J. S., Kerr T., Shannon K. (2014). Criminalisation of clients: reproducing vulnerabilities for violence and poor health among street-based sex workers in Canada—a qualitative study. British Medical Journal Open 4(6):e005191 - Link

Krusi 2014

Kulick D. (2003). Sex in the New Europe: The Criminalization of Clients and Swedish Fear of Penetration. Anthropological Theory 3(2):199–218 - Link

Kulick 2003 1

Lyon, W. (2014). Client criminalisation and sex workers’ right to health. Hibernian Law Journal 58 - Link

Lyon 2014 3 Kulick 2003 2

Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Police Affairs. (2004). Purchasing Sexual Services in Sweden and the Netherlands. A Report by a Working Group on the legal regulation of the purchase of sexual services - Link

Norg ministry 2004 Norg ministry 2004  2 Norg ministry 2004  3 Norg ministry 2004  4

O’Connell Davidson J. (2003). Sleeping with the enemy? Some problems with feminist abolitionist calls to penalise those who buy commercial sex. Social Policy and Society 2(1):55-63 - Link

Davidson 2003 davidson 2003 2