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Decriminalising the sex trade is touted as a means to empower women and rebrand a necessary service. This is utterly wrong

Kat Banyard is the founder of the campaign group UK Feminista and the author of The Equality Illusion (2011). Her latest book is Pimp State: Sex, Money and the Future of Equality (2016). 

How should governments respond to the prostitution trade? It’s a question laced with deep-rooted contests – over power, money and the pursuit of equality. But as organisations and advocates increasingly line up behind opposing answers, it’s a question that is becoming difficult to ignore. The fault lines are clear: recognise prostitution as work or as abuse; either see it as compatible with feminism or irredeemably sexist. Accept it, or work to end it.

One policy prescription currently gathering weight as the ‘progressive’response to the sex trade is full decriminalisation. Championed by institutions such as UNAIDS…

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