Women Rights, Wage Labour and Sexual Exploitation: A Labour Law Analysis of ‘Sex Work’

Shanie Roy
  • Antyajaa Indian Journal of Women and Social Change, December 2017, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/2455632717738636

Labor law analysis of the issue of prostitution (sex work, sexual exploitation, sex trade)

What is it about?

This article first deconstructs the argument of the ‘pro-sex-work’ lobby that the prostitution of women should be defended as workers’ rights. It then proposes that the feminist abolitionist movement should fully integrate the issue of labour rights for women at the centre of its political discourse.

Why is it important?

One of the main strategies of the pro-sex work lobby is to present prostitution as nothing more or less than normal job, similar to any other. Slogans such as ‘sex work is work’ or ‘sex work is decent: we demand labour rights’ highlight this stream of thought. However, if we scrutinize labour law, there are many contradictions between workers’ rights and what they call sex workers’ rights.


Shanie Roy (Author)
Universite du Quebec

At work, women are not only facing wage inequality but also to put up with sexist discrimination, sexual violence and a set of labour laws created around the model of the male breadwinner (Forrest & Sexton, 1997; Rao, 2016; Turk, 2016). In this difficult context, offering a way out of prostitution must absolutely overcome short-sightedness in favour of viable economic alternatives.

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