Open Democracy: “It's time to get off the fence on sex workers’ rights”

Source (institute/publication)
Open Democracy

Open Democracy has launched a new series that looks at those in the anti-trafficking movement who sit on the fence on sex worker rights.

In their article launching the series, they pose three main questions that will inform their research:

Why are so many anti-trafficking organisations reluctant to take a clear position on the status of sex work?

What are the main effects of fence-sitting upon politics and policy?

What would encourage anti-traffickers to get off the fence and directly support sex workers' rights?

The first article in the series looks at the politics of fence sitting. An excerpt is below but you can read the full article on the Open Democracy website.

“Many people in anti-trafficking circles are socialised into silence when it comes to the decriminalisation of sex work.

These silences can be costly in both policy and political terms. It is here, we would argue, that fence-sitting has a tendency to:

  • Undercut the effectiveness of anti-trafficking interventions
  • Weaken opposition to initiatives that harm sex workers, including abolitionist campaigns sold under the guise of anti-trafficking, by creating a recipe for inaction and self-censorship
  • Reinforce existing barriers between commercial sex work and other forms of labour

It is also necessary to put greater pressure on fence-sitters to publicly justify their non-position. In some circles, fence-sitting has been normalised to the point where it has become a taken-for-granted default. Sitting on top of a fence should not be a comfortable position.”

Over the next four weeks further opinion pieces, survey results and interviews will be published that explore how leading anti-trafficking figures and sex worker rights' activists approach the politics of fence-sitting. 

Open Democracy have previously published an e-book arguing for decriminalisation titled ‘The Fight to Decriminalise Sex Work’. The book features articles from several of NSWP’s member organisations.