Briefing Paper: The Impacts of Anti-Rights Movements on Sex Workers


In recent years, movements organised against the rights of marginalised and criminalised groups have grown in influence and impact around the globe. Anti-migrants’ rights groups have lobbied for more restrictive border policies, in violation of the right to move and migrate. Anti-sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and anti-LGBT groups have pushed back access to sexual and reproductive services and gender-affirming care for women, trans, and gender-diverse people, in violation of the right to health. Fundamental feminists and abolitionist groups continue to attack the bodily autonomy and human rights of sex workers; in addition sex workers endure attacks from other anti-rights movements due to their intersecting identities as migrants, women, black, indigenous and people of colour, LGBT+, trans and gender-diverse people, people who use drugs, people living with HIV, and others. Anti-rights movements pose numerous threats to sex workers, with their diverse ideologies, aims, and emerging alliances. These threats must be better understood to promote sex workers’ rights.

This Briefing Paper outlines the main tactics used across the anti-rights movements and highlights their impacts on sex workers and sex worker-led organisations. It also explores how sex worker-led organisations have challenged anti-rights movements, including their strategies for overcoming barriers and the successes they’ve achieved. Finally, this paper provides recommendations for respecting and protecting sex workers’ human rights.

You can download this resource above. This resource is available in Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish and Arabic. A Community Guide is available here.

An accompanying animation is also available.