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Abstract

Several distinct ideologies have emerged from feminist theory. However, insofar as feminist ideologies differ, they agree in their recognition that women are essentially oppressed. It is in their explanation as to why oppression occurs and how they propose to combat it that differences arise. Competing ideological perspectives and consequent views on issues such as prostitution and sex work have splintered feminist thinking for decades. This paper discusses the two dominant feminist positions, liberal feminism and radical feminism and reviews their differing perspectives which are especially influential in the Irish prostitution and sex work debate. In exploring these perspectives, we will address defining positions in the debate, such as prostitution is a form of violence in and of itself versus the proposition that prostitution is a form of paid work freely entered into and chosen like any other career. In this paper we will also briefly touch on the ideas of survival and the personal agency of women and the relationship between prostitution and sex trafficking. Finally, we will give a brief outline of the Irish Government’s recent legislation on prostitution, passed on 14th February 2017, in the context of the ‘Nordic Model’ on which it is based.

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