Course Syllabus

Prostitution and the Sex Trade in Europe A 

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Semester & Location:

Spring 2020 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Core Course - 3 credits

Core Course Study Tours:


Major Disciplines:

Gender Studies, Human Rights, Legal Studies

Faculty Members:

Anne Brandt Christensen, 

Program Director:

Iben De Neergaard, 

Time & Place:

Mondays and Thursdays, 10:05am- 11:25am
Location: V10-D11


Description of course

This course will provide students with an understanding of prostitution from historical, sociological and legal angles. It will introduce students to basic gender political discussions surrounding prostitution and explore the ways in which prostitution reflects and shapes gender norms and social hierarchies. We will study the sex trade in different parts of the world, but focus will be on a comparison between Denmark, Sweden and Holland as they have radical - but different - approaches to prostitution. The course also includes a study tour to Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Students will gain new insights into the lives of prostitutes/sex workers and the professionals working with them, both at government/state level and NGO level. The students will also visit different organizations working with workers in the sex trade, male and female. Finally, the students will consider national action plans developed to address prostitution. During the course we will explore some of the many questions that surround prostitution, such as Why do people enter into sex work/prostitution? What are the consequences of prostitution, psychologically and physically? Who buys sex? How has globalization and migration changed the sex trade? What are the consequences – financially, emotionally and socially – of prostitution? What does the law say? Should customers be criminalized?Should prostitution be legal or illegal? 


Course Faculty

Lecturer: Anne Brandt Christensen

B.A. and M.A. in Law (University of Copenhagen, 1995). Admitted to the Danish Bar, licensed to practice as Advokat. Has worked in the anti-trafficking field since 2007, including for the Danish Red Cross, and is recognized as an expert in the field nationally as well as internationally. Was awarded the European Crime Prevention Award (EUCPN) in December 2014 for work through the non-profit anti-trafficking NGO HopeNow which she chaired for eight years. November 2016 and 2018 nominated by the Danish government as Expert for GRETA - the monitoring expert group under The Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. With DIS since 2007.



The course aims to give students an understanding of prostitution as a sociological and legal phenomenon and to explore how the sex trade is conceptualized differently (as a social problem, a gender issue, etc.) in countries that are otherwise quite similar. The course will provide students with an overview of current responses in legislation, policy and practice at the international, European and national levels. Special emphasis will be given to developing an understanding of the sex trade in Denmark, Sweden and Holland and how it has been transformed by globalization and migration. 

Teaching Methods

This course relies heavily on in-class participation. Class time will be largely discussion-based, with some lecture and interactive activities. You should read all material prior to class.

The class as a SAFE(er) SPACE

Please note the class is discussion-based and it is very important that we all contribute to creating and maintaining the safest possible space throughout the semester. The class is also a learning space, and we will deal with themes and subjects that can be trickering to people, therefore discomfort must be expected as part of the learning experience. However all students are expected to actively participate in making the learning environment as safe as possible for each other. Your peers will come from a variety of backgrounds which we seek at using as an added value – be open, curious and respectful during your own and other’s learning process. Remember to challenge ideas, not people.

Expectations of the students

In order to pass the class, you must:

  1. Read all material before the class.
  2. Actively participate in discussions of your readings.
  3. Be active participants in group work.
  4. Hand in all assigned work.


Class participation  25%

Country Paper  10%

Country Presentation  10%

Reflection Journal 10%

Presentation Amsterdam 10%

Student debate 10%

Policy Recommendation Paper 25%


Class Participation The evaluation of this component will take into consideration the following aspects:

Preparation: preparation for each lecture is a course requirement. See all readings and classes in the calendar. Please be aware that there may be slight changes during the course.

Participation: active participation in all class sessions is required, and forms an important part of the student's grade for this component. Participation should preferably reflect the student's critical capacities and knowledge of the course material (see ”preparation” here above).

The aim of the student should be to contribute constructively to forwarding meaningful, relevant dialogue and discussion among the group; in practice, this means that expression of one's personal views should be backed up by references to pertinent readings, materials, etc.

The course heavily emphasizes your own engagement and active participation. Much of the learning in this course is dependent on how much effort you put into your own explorations and research, not least in connection with the different types of assignments.

Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:

Use of computers and phones

Computers in class can be tolerated but must be used STRICTLY for taking notes. Cell-phones and Smartphones are NOT allowed in class unless specifically agreed with Anne.

Late assignments will be deducted a grade point per day they are late.


Obligatory readings are listen in the calendar under each class. Further obligatory and optional readings (in limited quantity) may be distributed periodically during the course, always in good time to allow students to prepare. Readings are on Canvas or provided via links to external websites. There is no compendium for this class.

Every effort has been made to distribute the reading load reasonably equally throughout the semester.

  • Almodovar, Norma Jean (2010) Working it AND Monét, Veronica (2010) Sedition in Nagel, Jill (Ed.) Whores and other feminists, pp: 210-222
  • American Jewish World Service (2013) 3. Who are Sex Workers? AND 4. Why do people do sex work? in Sex worker rights; (Almost) everything you wanted to ask but were afraid to ask, pp: 3-4
  • Bacchi, Carol (2007) What’s the problem represented to be? An Introduction, pp.1-4
  • Bernstein, Elizabeth (2007) Chapter 5: Desire, Demand and the Commerce of Sex, in Temporarily yours - Intimacy, Authenticity and the Commerce of Sex, pp: 113-141
  • Bromberg, Sarah (1997) Chart: The Feminist Position on Prostitution, Feminist Issues in Prostitution (
  • Dank, Meredith & Johnson, Matthew (2014), The Hustle - Economics of the Underground Commercial Sex Industry, Urban Institute
  • Davis, Kingsley (1937) The Sociology of Prostitution, The Sociological Review, vol. 2, 5, pp. 744-755
  • Executive Summary in Stolen smiles: a summary report on the physical and psychological health consequences of women and adolescents trafficked in Europe, pp: 1-4
  • Farley, Melissa, Bindel, Julie & Golding, Jacqueline M. (2009) Men who buy sex, who they are and what they know, Eaves, London
  • Gubrium, J.F & Järvinen, M. (2013) Troubles, Problems and Clientization, In: J.F. Gubrium, J.F & Järvinen, M. (ed.) Turning Troubles into Problems, London: Routledge, pp: 1-15
  • Helth, Hanne (2009) Take a Stand, Man!, in Korsvik, Trine & Stø, Ane, The Nordic Model, 103-124
  • Jamrozik, Adam & Nocella, Luisa (1998), Introduction: Theoretical Perspectives on Social Problems, in The Sociology of Social Problems, Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-11
  • Levy, David (2007) Part two: Sex with Robots, in: Love and Sex with Robots, Duckworth Overlook, London, pp: 177-219
  • Levy, David (2011) 14 - Ethics of Robot Prostitutes, in: Lin, Patrick et. al. (ed.) Robot Ethics: The Ethical and Social Implications of Robots, MIT Press, pp: 223-231
  • Månsson, Sven, Men’s practices in prostitution and their implications for social work
  • March 8 Initiative (2012), The Effects of the Swedish Ban on the Purchase of Sexual Services,
  • Mission of Norway to the EU (2014) Evaluation of the Norwegian legislation criminalizing the buying of sexual services (summary),
  • Polly Trope, The night I became a prostitute (from Cured Meat)
  • Rachel Moran, The prostitution experience
  • Sex Workers in Europe Manifesto (2005)
  • Smaadahl, Tove (2009) Radical Feminists and the Dispute About How to Understand Prostitution, in Korsvik, Trine & Stø, Ane, The Nordic Model, pp: 63-76.
  • The Declaration of Rights of Sexworkers in Europe (2005)
  • Walkowitz, Judith (1980) 10 - The Making of an Outcast Group: Prostitutes and Working Women in Plymouth and Southampton, in Prostitution and Victorian Society, Cambridge University Press, pp: 192-213

Core Course Week and Study Tours

Core Course week and study tours are an integral part of the core course as we take the classroom on the road and see how theory presented in the classroom is translated to practice in the field. You will travel with your classmates and DIS faculty/staff on two study tours; a short study tour during Core Course Week and a long study tour to a relevant European destination.

Expectations for study tours

  • Participate in all activities
  • Engage in discussions, ask questions, and contribute to achieving the learning objectives
  • Respect the destination, the speakers, DIS staff, and your fellow classmates
  • Represent yourself, your home university and DIS in a positive light

While on a program study tour DIS will provide hostel/hotel accommodation, transportation to/from the destination(s), approx. 2 meals per day and entrances, guides, and visits relevant to your area of study or the destination. You will receive a more detailed itinerary prior to departure.

The dates for core course week, including short study tour, and your long study tour are below for your reference.

Travel policies

You are required to travel with your group to the destination. If you have to deviate from the group travel plans, you need approval from the program director and the study tours office.


Course Summary:

Date Details Due