Still We Rise — The Contemporary Sex Worker Movement in Europe in the Context of Neo-Abolitionism and Repressive Policies


  • Joana Lilli Hofstetter



sex work, social movements, neo-abolitionism, Europe, framing, prostitution politics, protest strategies


In 2015, sex worker activists across Europe celebrated the 40th anniversary of their political mobilisations. Despite having sustained and further institutionalised their transnational movement, these activists are currently confronted with an increasingly adversarial context formed by neo-abolitionist prostitution opponents and repressive policies. In this paper, I explore how sex workers in Europe engage in activism in this adversarial context and investigate how the latter impacts on their contemporary mobilisations. My analysis of the movement’s framing processes demonstrates that it is indeed strongly influenced by neo-abolitionism and repressive policies. Yet, activists continue to mobilise and adjust strategically in an attempt to reclaim self-representation, build coalitions, achieve legislative reform and ultimately, drive social change.