‘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.
Sex workers were among the hardest hit at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to be impacted by this global public health crisis. The challenges that sex workers faced before COVID-19, as a result of criminalisation, stigma and discrimination, were all exacerbated by the pandemic.
The digital transformation of society is an ongoing phenomenon, accelerated by the growing use of information and communication technology (ICT) in the last decade. However, the increased digitalisation of everyday life also poses new threats and challenges for sex workers that need to be addressed. This Community Guide identifies some of the current trends in the use of ICT, exploring good and bad practices, and examines the threats and challenges to sex workers’ safety, privacy, and well-being
The digital transformation of society is an ongoing phenomenon, accelerated by the growing use of information and communication technology (ICT) in the last decade. Sex workers are often among the first adopters of digital technologies to improve their safety while conducting their work in increasingly criminalised and stigmatised contexts and to protect their privacy.
In most countries, sex workers are subject to exploitative and often unsafe working conditions, and do not benefit from the same labour regulations and protections as other workers.
Community Guides are the result of desk research and a global e-consultation, and aim to provide simple summaries of NSWP’s Smart Guides, further detail and references can be found in the accompanying Smart Guides.
In most countries, sex workers are subject to exploitative and often unsafe working conditions, and don’t benefit from the same labour regulations and protections as other workers. This smart guide sets out how sex work fits within international labour standards, and in particular the Decent Work Agenda. It is intended as a tool for sex workers’ rights organisations to use when campaigning for labour rights as fundamental to sex workers’ rights in their respective countries.
New Zealand is the only country to have decriminalised sex work at a national level, alongside statelevel legislation in New South Wales (NSW) and the Northern Territory (NT) in Australia. This Guide provides an overview those three systems, and the key advocacy actions that were pivotal to achieving law reform, as a tool that sex workers and allies can use to advocate for a rights-affirming approach to sex work.
This Smart Guide provides an overview of existing sex work legal models and details the processes that have been used to develop legislative models that respect and protect sex workers’ human and labour rights. It aims to provide sex workers’ rights organisations with ideas and strategies that they can adapt to their own legal framework and context, to use in their advocacy and campaigning in their own countries.
This Smart Person’s Guide is a tool to support sex workers and their allies in advocating for the recognition of sex workers’ expertise. Sex workers’ have an indispensable knowledge of, and experience with the structural, legal, institutional, socio-economic and cultural barriers which impede their human and labour rights. Evidence shows that meaningful involvement of sex workers is critical to success in tackling inequality and inequity.
You can download this 30-page Smart Guide above. It is available in English, Russian, Chinese, French, and Spanish.
Associations between sex work laws and sex workers’ health: A systematic review and meta-analysis of quantitative and qualitative studies
This systematic review and meta-analysis, led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), has found that sex workers who have experienced 'regressive policing' (including arrest, extortion and violence from police), are three times more likely to experience sexual or physical violence. The study examines the impacts of criminalisation on sex workers’ safety, health, and access to services, using data from 33 countries. Sex workers' health and safety was found to be at risk not only in countries where sex work was criminalised, but also in Canada, which has introduced the “Nordic model”, where purchasing sex is specifically criminalised.
In recent years a growing number of international organisations have released policies, guidance and recommendations that promote the rights of sex workers and advocate for the full decriminalisation of sex work. It can be difficult for sex workers and sex workers’ rights activists to maintain an awareness of the many policies and recommendations that now exist.
Yale Global Health Justice Partnership (GHJP) has released two complementary analyses on prostitution “diversion” programs (PDPs) in the USA: Diversion from Justice: 'A Rights-Based Analysis of Local ‘Prostitution Diversion Programs’ and their Impacts on People in the Sex Sector in the United States'; and 'Un-Meetable Promises: Rhetoric and Reality in New York City’s Human Trafficking Intervention Courts'. One is national in scope and the other focused specifically on New York City programming.
This Smart Guide aims to provide NSWP members with increased understanding of CEDAW and its potential for use in advocacy work. The Guide is the result of collaboration between NSWP and the International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW-AP).
This Smart Guide builds on NSWP’s existing toolkit on the 'Nordic model’, and looks at the harms caused to sex workers in countries where the Nordic Model has been introduced. It draws on the experiences of NSWP members, using submissions, in-depth interviews and case studies gathered through a consultation process.
Sex workers and their allies face significant obstacles in the fight to improve the health and wellbeing of sex workers globally. In the Smart Sex Worker’s Guide: Addressing the Failure of Anti-Sex Work Organisations, NSWP explore the effects of anti-sex work programming and anti-trafficking initiatives that deny sex workers their human rights. The Smart Guide explores organisations whose work puts sex workers at risk, directly or indirectly, and provides key strategies from NSWP members on how to combat these approaches.
Jorge Flores-Aranda, Jonathan Bacon, and Claude Poisson provide an overview of the Sex Work Programme at Rézo, an organisation for men who have sex with men in Montréal, Canada. They argue male sex workers demonstrate resilience and resistence through the publication of the magazine the “Cowboy Urbain”. This article was published as a part of Research for Sex Work 15: Resistance and Resilience.
In Kampala, Uganda, there is a large network of sex worker-led organisations that unite under the umbrella organisation Uganda Harmonized Rights Alliance (UHRA). Paula Pönkänen and Hanna Jörneus argue that sex work organising in Uganda is a great example of how sex workers develop and implement their own programming. They provide an overview of sex worker-led programming in Kampala.
The Smart Sex Worker’s Guide to SWIT provides a short summary of the key points in Sex Worker Implemetation Tool (SWIT). The Sex Worker Implementation Tool (SWIT) offers practical guidance on effective HIV and STI programming for sex workers. It provides evidence for the necessity of decriminalisation of sex work, the involvement of sex workers in developing policy, and the empowerment and self-determination of sex work communities as a fundamental part of the fight against HIV. This resource is based on the WHO, UNFPA, UNAIDS and NSWP 2012 recommendations on HIV and Sex Work. The guide can be used by sex workers and sex worker organisations who are designing or running programmes for sex workers. It may also be useful as an advocacy tool when advocating for rights-based services.
A new public health context to understand male sex work
Researching male sex work offers insight into the sexual lives of men and women while developing a more realistic appreciation for the changing issues associated with male sex work. This type of research is important because it not only reflects a growing and diversifying consumer demand for male sex work, but also because it enables the construction of knowledge that is up-to-date with changing ideas around sex and sexualities.
This study gives a legal analysis of the legislative framework and jurisprudence relating to human trafficking in Canada. It also analyses the views of both criminal justice system personnel and SWAN society personnel on the enforcement and use of anti-trafficking legal measures. Contents include: