Victims & Offenders Special Issue Call for Papers

Quitting the Sex Trade: Why and How Pimps and Sex Workers Leave the Business

Victims & Offenders

This special issue will focus on why and how sex workers and pimps quit the sex trade. There is an extensive literature on ‘desistance’ or veering off the ‘bad’ path, with different theoretical frameworks explaining why people quit crime. However, with a few notable exceptions, researchers to date have not focused on desistance among pimps and sex workers. This is an important, but understudied, area of inquiry that can inform both the public policy and criminal justice policy debate. Emerging topics related to the sex trade include: (1) global trends in sex trade decriminalization and/or human trafficking criminalization, (2) the recent emergence of human trafficking intervention courts in the USA, and (3) the development (and impact) of new laws, policies, and intervention programs designed to reduce human trafficking (globally, regionally, country level) and/or more localized efforts to support desistance among participants in the sex trade.

The aim of this special issue is to explore the spectrum of quitting the sex trade from diverse angles such as voluntarily stopping, ‘drifting,’ and retiring; to intervention-based or coerced stopping, drifting and retiring, due to influences and impositions by programs and/or by specialized courts. We seek contributors who research accounts of quitting the sex trade that provide insight into the meaning of this work; how people in the sex trade view their engagement in licit/illicit spheres; and research that may inform providers who interface with people from these communities regarding how to support desistance.

We are particularly interested in articles that explore:

  • Research on quitting the sex trade, incited through events, including interaction with the criminal justice system and/or other life course activities
  • Research on the impact of prostitution diversion programs, such as the New York Human Trafficking Intervention Courts
  • Research on the impact of more coerced quitting via programs (e.g., John Schools and anti-trafficking policies).
  • Narratives of those who voluntary quit, but who did not interface with the criminal justice system
  • Research on less determinate states of quitting such as ‘drifting’ or ‘yo-yo’ing’
  • Research on factors that led to retirement from sex market “criminal careers”
  • Research on global, regional, or country-specific efforts to get participants in the sex trade to quit the business.

Submission Instructions

We welcome papers that address one or more of these questions drawing on mixed, qualitative, or quantitative methods. We encourage both comparative research and international submissions. Please review our Instructions for authors page prior to submitting your research. 

Prior to submitting a paper, please email a 500-word abstract/proposal to Amber Horning Ruf by June 15, 2018. If your abstract/proposal is selected, we will invite you to submit a paper to this special issue. You will be informed if your abstract is accepted by July 1, 2018. Full manuscripts will be expected by December 1, 2018.

Papers should be limited to 30 pages. All submissions will undergo anonymous review.

If you have questions, please contact Amber Horning Ruf, the corresponding guest editor. Please put “Special Issue” in the subject line. 

Editorial information