Melissa Farley

Melissa Farley (born 1942) is an American research and clinical psychologist and feminist anti-pornography and anti-prostitution activist. Farley is best known for her studies of the effects of prostitution, trafficking, and sexual violence.


Since 1993, Farley has researched prostitution and trafficking in 9 countries. She is the author of several studies of prostitutes in several parts of the world, which claim high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder among the women studied. In September 2007, Farley published a book on prostitution and sex trafficking in the state of Nevada. In the book, Farley claims that, though Nevada has legal brothels, 90% of prostitution taking place in the state is conducted in Clark County which contains Las Vegas, and Washoe County, containing Reno, in both of which prostitution is illegal, or outside legally designated brothels. She also claims that Las Vegas in particular is a major destination for sex traffickers. She also claims that 81% of the 45 legal brothel workers she interviewed would like to leave prostitution, but in many cases are physically prevented from doing so. Farley additionally states that she had been threatened at gunpoint by one of the brothel owners during the course of the interviews.

Farley has also published several papers on the long-term effects of sexual abuse.

Criticism of her research

Her prostitution studies have been criticized by sociologist Ronald Weitzer, for alleged problems with their methodology and sampling bias toward highly marginalized groups of prostitutes (such as street prostitutes), and for the way the findings of these studies have been more generally applied to demonstrate the harm of sex work of all kinds. Farley's critics also claim that her findings largely reflect her radical feminist ideology.

Activism and views

Farley is a leading proponent of the abolitionist view of prostitution holding that prostitution is inherently exploitive and traumatizing, and should therefore be abolished. She is an opponent of across-the-board decriminalization of prostitution, instead advocating the "Swedish model" of prostitution laws, in which the buying of sex (including soliciting, procuring, and trafficking) is criminalized, while the selling of sex is decriminalized, along with the funding of social services to "motivate prostitutes to seek help to leave their way of life." Such an approach is based on the point of view that prostitutes are the weaker partner in the transaction and are exploited. She is also largely opposed to sex workers' rights activists and groups, such as COYOTE, which advocate legalizing or decriminalizing both prostitution and the purchase of sexual services. Many of these activists are likewise strongly opposed to Farley's perspective, holding that Farley's research discredits and misrepresents women working in the sex industry and lacks accountability toward them.

Farley is also an anti-pornography activist. In 1985, she led a National Rampage Against Penthouse alongside Nikki Craft. The "Rampage" was a civil disobedience campaign of public destruction of bookstore-owned copies of Penthouse and Hustler (which they denounced as violent pornography). Farley was arrested 13 different times in 9 different states for these actions. In March 2007, she testified in hearings about's purchase of the San Francisco Armory, comparing the images produced by to images of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib.

As of 2008, she is currently director of Prostitution Research and Education, a San Francisco nonprofit organization.

Major works

External links

By Melissa Farley

Criticism of Melissa Farley

Debates between Melissa Farley and others

Panel and symposium discussions

News articles, reports, and editorials

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

This article is based on "Melissa Farley" from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia ( It is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licencse. In the Wikipedia you can find a list of the authors by visiting the following address: