COST Action IS1209 – ‘Comparing European Prostitution Policies: Understanding Scales and Cultures of Governance’ (ProsPol)’ was a network that lasted four years, 2013-2017, bringing together researchers and sex-work activists from Europe and beyond to compare and disseminate knowledge about the multiple contexts, features and effects of prostitution policies at the European, national and local levels. ProsPol included over 90 members from over 20 countries and it was coordinated by Dr Crowhurst.
At present there are no efficient strategies to address these complex issues and their comprehensive analysis remain fragmented, with little communication amongst researchers from different countries and between researchers and policy makers. ProsPol aimed to fulfil the pressing need to exchange knowledge and develop comparative approaches on prostitution policies, their effects and the complex contexts influencing them. It provided an innovative platform of exchange to enhance understanding of how concepts, policies and practices transfer across national cultures and local contexts, and the implications this has for knowledge exchange and coordination in the field.Among its achievements were two ground-breaking conferences in Vienna and Copenhagen, the first international conferences entirely dedicated to sex work, public debates, including in countries that usually marginalise the topic, and innovative research evidence. Wider engagement was central to ProsPol’s success. The Action’s meetings included politicians, the media, sex workers and representatives of justice systems, while keynote addresses were open to the public. A number of leading publications emerged from events and networking organized and facilitated by ProsPol, and the first book series dedicated to sex industry studies ‘Interdisciplinary Studies in Sex for Sale’ [https://www.routledge.com/Interdisciplinary-Studies-in-Sex-for-Sale/book-series/ISSS] published by Routledge and co-edited by Dr Crowhurst was also started. Prospol was featured as an example of a highly successful Action on COST’s 2018 annual report. While it has officially concluded, many of its members continue working together in research and advocacy in the field.