Symposium on the Legal Regulation and Policing of Commercial Sex

March 3rd – 4th, 2016, Queen’s University Belfast

Teela Sanders will be presenting her paper Webcams, Fantasy Chat and Escorting: Sexual Commerce in the Digital Age at this symposium organised by the Commercial Sex Research Network Ireland (CSRNI), an interdisciplinary network for researchers critically engaged in the area of commercial sex and sex work in Ireland.


The majority of commercial sex in the Western world is either mediated or performed through the Internet and digital technologies. This paper is an exploratory discussion of the nature and characteristics of this shift, pulling out some of the broader questions around how sexual commerce has adapted and responded to the digital age. Exploring concepts such as ‘digital labour’ with empirical findings from a Wellcome Trust project with Internet Based Sex Workers, this paper will set the scene for where sociological inquiry needs to focus its attentions. Finally, the paper will flesh out a current project in situ Beyond the Gaze: Working Practice, Safety and Regulation on Internet base Sex work

About the Symposium

Funded by the Irish Research Council under the New Foundations scheme, the CSRNI is being developed in a three-way partnership between the University of Limerick, NUI Galway and the Schools’ of Law and Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen’s University, Belfast. The aims of the network are to provide a much-needed space for interdisciplinary collaboration and dissemination of research activities nationally and internationally. This event is also sponsored by the British Society of Criminology (Northern Ireland) Regional Group.

While the emphasis of the symposium is on developments that are occurring in Ireland (North and South) issues around commercial sex in other jurisdictions including Britain and Sweden / Norway will also be considered. Topics to be discussed include: the role of the digital economy in the buying and selling of sexual services; the policing of commercial sex; legislative changes and the criminalisation of demand; and feminist responses to commercial sex. The aim of the symposium is to share analyses of the prevalence and regulation of commercial sex in Ireland, and to draw upon best practice lessons from other jurisdictions. The symposium will bring together academics, NGOs and those involved in commercial sex in Ireland.

There is no fee for this conference. However, places are limited and are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. To reserve a place please RSVP to Dr Tanya Serisier as soon as possible ( There will be no media presence at this event so sex workers are more than welcome to attend.