Resources

PONY Statement on Demand

Submitted to the Beijing +10 Fourth World Conference on Women by Prostitutes of New York

Written by Jo Doezema and Melissa Ditmore

Prostitutes of New York is an organization of many kinds of workers in New York City's sex industry. PONY is a member of the international Network of Sex Work Projects, which advocates for the rights of sex workers around the world. Two keywords have arisen in anti-sex work anti-trafficking advocacy: "demand" and "dignity."

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This report focuses on indoor sex work primarily because, while these sex workers are largely invisible, they face many of the same problems as the more visible street-based prostitutes. The stereotypes of indoor sex workers encompass only extremes of either wealth and glamour or coercion and violence. The true picture reveals a more nuanced reality—the majority of indoor sex workers in this study live surprisingly precarious lives, and encounter a high level of exactly the same problems faced by street-based sex workers, including violence, constant fear of police interference, and a lack of substantive support services. Finding concrete and reality-based solutions to the needs of this invisible, vulnerable, and marginalised community is imperative to helping them create safe and stable lives.

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This booklet explains how Canada’s criminal laws related to prostitution affect the health and the human rights of sex workers. It recommends changes to those laws to improve the lives of sex workers. This booklet is based on the report Sex, work, rights: reforming Canadian criminal laws on prostitution (click for more information and to download the 124 page report), published in 2005 by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.

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Prostitution, the exchange of sex for money and other valuable consideration, is legal in Canada. However, it is difficult for sex workers and their clients to engage legally in prostitution. Four sections of the Criminal Code (sections 210 to 213) make illegal virtually every activity related to prostitution and prohibit prostitution in almost every conceivable public or private place. Sections 210 and 211 respectively make it illegal for a person to keep a “bawdy-house” – i.e., a place regularly used for prostitution – or to transport a person to such a place. Section 212 makes it illegal to encourage or force people to participate in prostitution (also known as “procuring”), or to live on the money earned from prostitution by someone else (also known as “living on the avails of prostitution”).

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This report summarises the findings of a human rights project conducted by the Sex Workers Project in 2007 and 2008 to explore the impacts and effectiveness of  anti-trafficking approaches in the United States. These approaches include anti-trafficking raids and vice raids targeting sex work conducted by local law enforcement agencies in different cities. It is among the first efforts since the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 to give voice to the perspectives of trafficked persons and sex workers who have experienced anti-trafficking raids. A total of 46 people were interviewed for the report.

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This paper addresses the persistence of violence against female commercial sex workers in the United States, drawing on the experiences of the Best Practices Policy Project in conducting outreach, research, and relationship building with diverse commercial sex worker stakeholders.

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This memorandum analyses the constitutionality of the federal government’s requirement that international relief organisations adopt policies explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking if they wish to participate in federally-funded programmes designed to combat the worldwide spread of HIV/AIDS. We conclude that the First Amendment bars Congress from requiring relief organisations based in the United States to adopt a specific policy position opposing prostitution as a condition of participating in federally-funded programmes delivering HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and related social services.  

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