Vol. 1 No. 1 (2020): Global Connections
Articles - Capstones

Legislative Bodies Legislating Bodies: Cultural and Religious Conceptions of Sex Work in Spain and the Netherlands

Published May 15, 2020


Sex commerce is perhaps the most widely-contested exchange of goods and services across the world. Although there is a lack of cohesion on how to govern and regulate the sex industry, common legal frameworks emerge across borders. The four traditional legal frameworks of sex work are abolitionism, prohibitionism, decriminalization, and legalization, but each nation-state shapes their own nuanced legal framework based on one of these four general models. Legal frameworks of sex work vary across borders and even within them due to cultural, ethic, moral, and religious differences among constituencies. Overall, “historical, geographical, cultural, psychic, and imaginative boundaries” define the way societies approach the legal structures that govern sex work.1 For example, “some politicians understand sex work as deviant and undesirable, which in turn justifies laws, policies, and regulations intended to control where and how sex commerce takes place.”2 Spain and the Netherlands, two Western European countries with religious and cultural differences, regulate sex work differently due to cultural and religious practices. These societal differences toward conceptions of criminality and sex work highlight the varied approaches governments take towards sex commerce based on their construction of citizenship, work, and dignity.