The Smart Sex Worker's Guide to Social Protection


‘Social protection’ refers to measures designed to prevent and address situations which negatively affect people’s well-being, as well as measures which reduce vulnerability and facilitate social and economic stability. Sex workers are frequently viewed as requiring protection due to the predominant misconception of sex workers as ‘victims’ of trafficking and exploitation. At the same time, most state social protection schemes do not include sex workers, and where sex workers are included, the programmes do not address their identified needs, but rather claim to ‘protect’ sex workers from themselves, whilst violating their human rights and undermining their agency and bodily autonomy.

This Smart Guide examines structural barriers which impede sex workers’ access to social protection measures, providing examples of how sex workers’ human rights are violated. These findings are based on a community consultation conducted with NSWP members, as well as key informant interviews conducted with representatives of UN agencies. This guide also outlines the international human rights frameworks underpinning social protection and explains how they can be used by sex worker-led organisations to promote sex workers’ human rights. Lastly, this Smart Guide explores good practices in promoting sex workers’ access to social protection and offers recommendations for sex worker-led organisations, policymakers, and allies.

You can download this Smart Guide above. It is available in English, Russian, Chinese, French, Spanish and Arabic.