Laura Graham

Wednesday, November 8 2017 at 7:30PM

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43 Gallowgate, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4SG

Laura Graham

What's the talk about?

 "On 15th June 2016, the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee on Prostitution published a report recommending, inter alia, that the laws surrounding brothel keeping and soliciting in England and Wales ought to be reformed. This report is the latest step in a decade-long public re-examination of sex work in England and Wales (Home Office, 2004, 2006, 2008; All Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade, 2014), but these recommendations mark a significant deviation from the more punitive approach favoured by the preceding publications. This report, although not fully committed to any one legal approach to sex work, appears to favour a more harm-reduction based response, providing echoes of international discourses around human rights and sex work. That is, a range of United Nations bodies, including the General Assembly and UN Women, have published reports and policies supporting decriminalisation of sex work to uphold sex workers’ human rights. Amnesty International has also openly supported the decriminalisation of sex work. 

I will explore the Select Committee report, and how its recommended reforms could be implemented to make the law more human rights compliant, particularly drawing on European Convention on Human Rights jurisprudence. Through this lens I will also explore the use of human rights, and particularly legal human rights instruments, in the debates around sex work, arguing that they are both a useful and limited tool to promote sex workers’ safety and agency."


Laura Graham is a native to Newcastle, returning to the North East in 2012 after some years away. Laura holds degrees from Durham University (LLB in Law, 2007) and the University of Nottingham (MA in Sociolegal and Criminological Research, 2009). Laura is currently completing an ESRC 1+3 funded PhD at the University of Nottingham supervised by Professor Vanessa Munro, Mr Ralph Sandland, and Professor David Fraser. Laura’s thesis, which is currently under examination, critically explores how the Human Rights Act could impact reform of the law relating to prostitution in England and Wales. Laura was a lecturer in law at Durham University from 2012-2016, and has been a senior lecturer in law at Northumbria University since Jan 2017. Her expertise relate to criminal law, gender and the law, human rights, and the regulation of sex. She has presented on this topic at academic conferences in the UK and internationally.