Call for Papers: Harm Reduction and Decriminalization of Sex Work

Deadline January 31, 2021

Guest Editors: Dr B. Brooks-Gordon, Dr M. Morris, Prof T. Sanders

This special issue brings together a combination of empirical and theoretical papers that focus on public health and harm reduction perspectives, moving the discussion away from arguments about whether to decriminalize sex work or not, to explore how the decriminalization of sex work might work in practice. The aim is to consider new models of practice, problem-solving, and harm reduction in a contemporary context by bringing together academics, activists, NGOs, practitioners, and sex workers in the co-production of knowledge. The special issue is based on the premise that it is possible to produce knowledge on community safety only with community involvement.


The UN Secretary General argued for the removal of punitive laws in 2016 on the basis that policies and practices often negatively impact health outcomes and violate human rights, particularly in the areas of sexuality, reproduction, sex work, drug use, and HIV. This was followed in February 2019 by a UN Concept Note for the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). By March 2019 the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) called for submissions on the misuse of criminal law to address the detrimental impact on health, equality, and human rights of criminalization.

The Global Commission on HIV and the Law and the International Commission of Jurists are now developing principles to address how the criminal law causes harm, particularly to already marginalized groups, and contravenes a number of human rights, including the non-discrimination principle; the right to equality before the law and equal protection of the law without discrimination; the right to be free from cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment or treatment; and the rights to privacy and health.

This special issue invites papers covering subjects such as sex workers’ experiences of governance, how decriminalization works in practice, health, policing, peer advocacy, support services, working conditions, labor relations, experiences at work in various settings, and the diversity of communities.


Those interested in participating in this special issue should submit their manuscript via the journal’s Editorial Manager website ( by January 31, 2021. Please indicate when submitting that the manuscript is intended for this special issue (SI: Harm Reduction).

All manuscripts must be formatted according to the journal’s Submission Guidelines found on the journal homepage, and should be submitted on the journal's Editorial Manager site. There are no page charges, although authors may opt to have their (accepted) paper made available open access for an article-processing charge (APC). Fees and Funding on the journal homepage gives additional information on open access. The journal publishes both theoretical papers as well as original research. All submissions are subject to peer review.

Questions and inquiries about the special issue should be directed to Guest Editor Belinda Brooks-Gordon (