Back to RJ Archive

Shifting the focus: Restorative justice and sex work.

Lewis, Jacqueline
June 4, 2015

Source: (2010) Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice. 52(3):285-301.

In recent years, governments have taken up the concept of restorative justice (RJ) and added what they refer to as RJ practices to their sentencing arsenal. The manner in which these practices are taken up and implemented, however, typically involves a shift away from the original roots and intent of the concept of RJ and a remodelling of its basic foundations. In North America, the application of RJ to sex work typically takes the form of diversion programs aimed at street-based workers and their clients. The goal of such programs is to demonstrate the harmful nature of the industry and its negative effects on the worker and community, thereby discouraging involvement in it. This article problematizes such an application of RJ principles and argues for a shift in focus, particularly regarding the conceptualization of victim, harm, and reparation needed. As our research indicates, it is the existence and application of public policies aimed at various sectors of the sex-work community, especially the criminal law, that are the primary source of harm for people working in the sex industry (PWSI). The requisite steps for restoring justice and protecting the rights of sex workers are outlined. (author’s abstract)


Support the cause

We've Been Restoring Justice for More Than 40 Years

Your donation helps Prison Fellowship International repair the harm caused by crime by emphasizing accountability, forgiveness, and making amends for prisoners and those affected by their actions. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational.

Donate Now