Overcoming Practices that Limit Sex Worker Agency in the Asia Pacific Region


This paper discusses policies and programmes affecting sex workers that limit their economic empowerment. It aims to frame sex work in terms of labour migration, economics and empowering labour environments, rather than in terms of power, disease and immorality. A summary of this paper is also available.

In Southeast Asia, APNSW observed that sex workers frequently move to faraway lands to find more lucrative work and economic enhancement, but are greatly constrained by anti-trafficking policies framed by a belief that no woman will move willingly to work in sex work. Anti-trafficking laws are often used to limit free movement of women in sex work by raiding and ‘rescuing’ them. Though this is ostensibly done to help them escape traffickers, it is mainly used to ‘correct’ their behaviour.

Contents include:

  • The Fallacy of Rehabilitation
  • AFESIP Survivors: Somaly Mam’s Charity Rejects a Rights-Based Approach
  • Urban Light - American Christians in Thailand
    • Had boys in the community begun to talk organically about the  issues on which Urban Light works with them?
    • Urban Light’s perspective on homosexuality
    • Urban Light's work
  • The Rahab Ministries
  • Malaysia: Rehabilitation of trans sex workers
  • Conclusion

You can download this 12-page PDF above. This resource is available in English.