CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Ellison & Smith on Hate Crimes Against Sex Workers

Graham Ellison and Lucy Smith (Queen's University Belfast - School of Law and Independent) have posted Hate Crime Legislation and Violence Against Sex Workers in Ireland: Lessons in Policy and Practice (Forthcoming in: Haynes Amanda; Jennifer Schweppe, Seamus Taylor. (Eds) Critical Perspectives on Hate Crime Contributions from the island of Ireland, Palgrave Macmillan (with L.Smith) [2017]) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Although there is now a wide body of research evidence to suggest that sex workers experience a relatively high level of violence, threats and abuse in the course of their work (Campbell, 2014; Kinnell, 2008; Phipps, 2008; Serisier, 2010), it has only been comparatively recently that there have been calls for such violence to be regarded as a ‘hate crime’ (Campbell, 2014). The case with respect to crimes against sex workers is complicated somewhat by the varying experiences of sex workers who work in different strata (on-street vs. off-street) with up-scale escorts much less likely to experience the more extreme forms of violence and abuse to which street-based sex workers may be subjected (Phipps, 2008). Similarly, the experiences of cisgender and transgender, male and female, sex workers are also often very different which makes devising a coherent policy response difficult (Kinnell, 2008). Sex workers are often very resourceful and have developed complex coping and safety strategies outside official and statutory channels (Phipps, 2013; Campbell, 2014) but there is nevertheless a solid argument that such violence needs to be given some sort of official recognition, not least insofar as aspects of violence against female sex workers may be seen as a surrogate for violence against women generally (Angelari, 1994). Reflecting on an issue that rarely surfaces as something that should be considered within the ambit of ‘hate crime’, this chapter considers whether violence, assaults as well as a range of other threatening behaviours against sex workers should be viewed through the prism of hate crime and whether doing so might result in these issues being taken more seriously by the police and other statutory agencies than is currently the case, including in Ireland.

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