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Managed zones for sex workers in Liverpool: contemporary proposals, Victorian parallels

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Recent proposals to establish a ‘managed zone’ for female street sex workers in Liverpool are placed in this paper in historical and geographical context. Liverpool is shown to be an exemplar of a late Victorian municipal management of prostitution that was just as firmly committed to the containment and ‘localisation’ of sex work. This model is contrasted with alternative municipal strategies, and set within a national legislative agenda increasingly hostile to tolerance and regulation. The contours of this governmental regulation of commercial sexuality are explored in some detail here, but this historical geography is also offered as a way of informing contemporary concerns, cautioning as it does against averring either the novelty or the progressiveness of contemporary policies on the zoning of sex work.

Keywords: Liverpool; historical geography; managed zone; prostitution; sex work; zoning

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EN, Email:

Publication date: 2008-04-01

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