This article examines the public discourses invoked in United Kingdom debates about prostitution and the trafficking of women. It takes two particular debates as its focus: the kerbcrawling debates from the late 1970s to the present and the more recent trafficking debate. The authors suggest that there are three striking features about the UK discourses on prostitution: i) the absence of the sex work discourse, ii) the dominance of the public nuisance discourse in relation to kerb-crawling, and iii) the dominance of a traditional moral discourse in relation to trafficking. At a time when the UK is about to revise its sex laws, it is important to consider the discourses that frame prostitution policies in other European countries, with a view to broadening the range of policy options.
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