Social Justice for Sex Workers: The Effects of Neoliberalism's Punitive Turn on Sex Work Policy in Spain
MetadataShow full item record
There is no specific law regulating sex work in Spain, nor is the selling and buying of sexual services between consenting adults criminalized under the Criminal Code. Nevertheless, it could be argued that Spain’s legal framework is akin to the prohibitionist model as it encompasses a series of laws and policies that indirectly criminalize sex workers. Following neoliberalism’s punitive turn, the behaviors that are considered crimes are no longer addressed through penal welfarism and rehabilitation, but through discipline, punishment, and incapacitation. Extending to all spheres of society, the punitive turn had reverberations in feminist movements who in the 1970s and 1980s began to revindicate harsher penal sentences for crimes of gender violence, including sex work and sex trafficking. Using a decolonial and penal abolitionist feminist approach, this thesis seeks to answer the following question: How do neoliberal politics influence sex work policy in Spain and what are the consequences on sex workers? I use critical discourse analysis to examine two legislative documents that control sex work in the public space in Spain: the “Ordinance to Promote and Guarantee Civic Coexistence in the Public Space of Barcelona” and the “Organic Law 4/2015, of 30 March, on Citizen Protection and Security.” I show how, under the pretense of coexistence, civility, and citizen security, these policies exacerbate stigmatization, vulnerability, and physical, mental, social, and economic violence for sex workers. I argue that the penal system is unfit to address the harms related to sex work as it systematically reproduces violence against racialized and marginalized communities. I argue for social, racial, and economic—rather than penal—justice for sex workers. I conclude by reflecting on possible alternatives to criminalization, including New Zealand’s decriminalization model.