The sex work position, mentioned innumerably in many significant female anthologies, gained prominence in the 1980s. Whenever a feminist researcher writes about global prostitution or domestic prostitution, they write from a standpoint of a ‘sex work’ position. The sex work research that had since then piled-up is gargantuan. Some of the notables are Kempadoo, Chapkis, Agustin and Doezma.
In the feminist industry, those who conform to a sex work position cover a range of perspectives; from people who deem prostitution to be included within the legal framework of businesses to people who recognise prostitution as a ‘positive exercise’ in women’s agency. It isn’t rare to see a feminist being critical of both ‘abolitionist’ or ‘sex work’ feminists. Those who do not acclimatise a particular point of view towards prostitution may not be very forthcoming, but many favour decriminalization. But this, on the other side, is just a conjecture.
Feminist scholars, who support prostitution, exposit their argument on decriminalisation on grounds that prostitutes are a marginalised group of individuals who have chosen their vocation to be whoredom, and that they have the right to be granted protection like any other citizen. There are many feminists like Strossen who have gone insofar as supporting the decriminalisation from a ‘free speech’ liberal individualist position. The Feminists for Free Expression (FFE), of which Strossen is a part of, argues that the decriminalisation is a consonant with the freedom of expression that everyone has a right to. The approach it took also disregards any male dominance or women’s oppression. Some of the other proponents of decriminalisation argue that prostitution is just a form of sexual exchange, and that it shouldn’t attract the attention of any moral policy-makers. The same proponents also draw a line between decriminalisation and legalisation, going onto propagate that legalisation does not bode well for prostitutes because it’d be biased towards the support of pimps.
But if a state were to decriminalise prostitution, then it is hailed as a state which is in favor of women, and would be labelled as ‘pro-feminist.’ And when decriminalisation starts showing its effects, the prostitution industry would be subject to the same rules for brothels as hairdressing salons.
Both the ideas of legalisation and decriminalisation stem from the notion that prostitution is an ineluctable form of behaviour. The Queensland model says that the sense of universal acceptance of prostitution reverberates in the whole of the prostitution community. So far, there have been only a couple of jurisdictions in two places favouring decriminalisation: New South Wales in Australia and New Zealand. Their policies are regarded as the paradigm of decriminalisation. There was a legislation that was carried out in 2003 in New Zealand, which was amended. The amendment introduced a licensing scheme on grounds that prostitution represents harm to prostitutes, which has to be given importance. Though the idea of decriminalisation is vehemently favoured by ‘sex work’ feminists, it is less popular among legislators, who are more aware of the problems —organised crime, violence against women— that transpire in the prostitution industry.