Sex Work's Governance: Stuff and Nuisance

21 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2015  

Angela Campbell

McGill University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: March 1, 2015


Sex work’s governance throughout the Commonwealth has historically been animated by the objective of rendering the sale of sex, and those who engage in such transactions, invisible. To achieve this end, lawmakers have characterized public, viewable sex work as a nuisance meriting criminalization. Although prohibition results in unequivocal perils for sex workers, governance strategies in this domain remain centred on criminalization. A new law in Canada, Bill C-36: the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, exemplifies this point. While Bill C-36 purports to shift criminal law’s focus from sex workers to their clients and profiteers, it continues to expose sex workers who work in public view to criminal prosecution. It thereby preserves sex work’s characterization as a nuisance, offensive to a community’s senses and deserving of proscription. Although Bill C-36 proclaims to promote dignity and equality rights, it prioritizes the interests of communities over those of sex workers. In the result, this new law will revoke sex workers’ social and political citizenship and thwart their personal security.

Keywords: sex work, prostitution, nuisance, criminal law, citizenship, personal security

Suggested Citation

Campbell, Angela, Sex Work's Governance: Stuff and Nuisance (March 1, 2015). Feminist Legal Studies, 2015. Available at SSRN:

Angela Campbell (Contact Author)

McGill University - Faculty of Law ( email )

3644 Peel Street
Montreal H3A 1W9, Quebec

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