Innestengt eller utestengt? Norsk prostitusjonspolitikk og kampen mot menneskehandel
Not peer reviewed
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This doctoral thesis investigates the intersection of Norwegian criminal law and international anti-trafficking policies by examining the institutional activities it generates in two Norwegian police districts, Hordaland and Oslo. The project interrogates why and how law matters in the regulation of prostitution and looks at this through ethnographic approach rooted at multiple sites. Drawing on fieldwork observations, interviews and analysis of policy-documents and media reports the thesis documents how Norway’s anti-prostitution and international anti-trafficking efforts intersect and are implemented at a local level.
Theoretically, the thesis approach the empirical research field informed by insights from Michel Foucault and governmentality perspectives on the rule of law as a site to investigate issues of social control. Through this approach the thesis rejects more common approaches to the question of legal regulation of prostitution markets by arguing that traditional “model-thinking” stultifies researchers access to a more comprehensive understanding of why and how law matters.
The thesis shows how a variety of strategies and institutional perspectives are engaged when local actors are left to interpret ambiguous policy instruments and must implement critical concepts within international anti-trafficking policies, such as prevention, protection and prosecution. At the local level, former policies that address “the problem of prostitution” through harm reducing outreach work seems at odds with the strategies and methods used by special police units seeking to eliminating the market for the transaction of sexual services via disrupting organized criminal networks.
The analysis is accomplished by describing how and why the implementation of antitrafficking and prostitution policies leads to conflicts between actors who are meant to work coordinated in common efforts to abolish exploitation in prostitution. The analysis is situated at two seemingly diverging police districts where the thesis investigates and contrasts the relationship between proactive and reactive police strategies to address prostitution as a criminal problem. The analysis also shows that a high level of discrepancy exists between the rhetoric of officially stated policies and the local and institutional realities that are reported by those whose profession it is to implement prostitution policies. By using fieldwork conducted at multiple sites, the analysis shows how local and national actors report diverging views in terms of what “success” means in the field of prostitution and anti-trafficking. The thesis gives a glimpse into the worldviews of the informants and participants in the research project by describing what a good and a bad day at work signifies for them.
The question that arises through the analysis is intrinsically linked to the issue of national borders as recent changes in prostitution policy in Norway can both be seen as a step forward for a liberal society based on principles of inclusion and gender equality, as well as understood as part of larger societal transformations in Western liberal democracies. In these democracies an increasing number of individuals are excluded from the benefits of a welfare state, certain territories and spaces, yet rhetorically deemed to be objects of “rescue-missions”, “rehabilitation-processes” and “exit-programs” into particular ways of living and consuming, “here” or “there”. As a Western liberal democracy, Norway is no exception as anti-immigration policies increasingly dictates how and why prostitution is seen as a problem.