Resources

Despite the global trend of increasing mobility, migrant workers are still stigmatised and silenced – in politics and media alike. Additionally, migrant sex workers are painted as either victims or criminals in discourses that conflate sex work with human trafficking and deny sex workers the right to migrate. Their human rights are often ignored in favour of driving broader political agendas to restrict migration and criminalise sex work. 

Despite the global trend of increasing mobility, migrant workers are still stigmatised and silenced – in politics and media alike. Additionally, migrant sex workers are painted as either victims or criminals in discourses that conflate sex work with human trafficking and deny sex workers the right to migrate. Their human rights are often ignored in favour of driving broader political agendas to restrict migration and criminalise sex work.

Sex workers all over the world were among the hardest hit communities at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to be impacted by this global public health crisis. The structural oppression that sex workers faced before the pandemic as a result of criminalisation, stigma and discrimination was exacerbated as sex workers experienced hardship, a total loss of income, increased harassment, human rights abuses, and health inequalities. The vast majority of sex workers were excluded from emergency responses and national social protection schemes.

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 resource is a Community Guide to the Briefing Paper: The Impacts of Anti-Rights Movements on Sex Workers. It provides an overview of the full Briefing Paper, and provides key recommendations for respecting and protecting sex workers’ human rights.

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.

Legislation around sex work can be extremely complex and different legal models exist in different countries, and sometimes even within countries. While understanding the written laws and regulations is important, it does not provide a complete picture of the impact of sex work laws on the lives of sex workers. To understand this, it is essential to understand how the laws are interpreted, enforced, and implemented on the ground.

Misinformation about sex work and sex workers has long served as a tool for politicians, religious leaders, fundamental feminists and abolitionist groups, and anti-trafficking organisations to advance anti-sex work agendas.

Misinformation about sex work and sex workers has long served as a tool for politicians, religious leaders, fundamental feminists and abolitionist groups, and anti-trafficking organisations to advance anti-sex work agendas. The conflation of sex work with trafficking and exploitation is at the root of misinformation on sex work. ‘End Demand’ models that criminalise sex workers’ clients, ‘raid and rescue’ operations, and ‘exit’ and ‘rehabilitation’ services further deny the diverse lived experiences of sex workers while obscuring true victims of trafficking.

The struggles for sex workers’ and women’s rights are innately interconnected. Worldwide, most sex workers are women, who share challenges in their fight for justice, equality, and the right to be free from violence, stigma, and discrimination. Nevertheless, within the women’s movement there have been obstacles to acceptance of and meaningful engagement with sex worker-led organisations, ranging from ideological opposition to outright abuse.

This case study is the fourth and final instalment in a series produced by NSWP over a five-year period. Spanning the years 2015 to 2019, three previous case studies documented the role of NSWP and its member organisations in the development, implementation, and monitoring of rights-affirming international guidelines and policies on sex work. These case studies also examined the usage and impact of international guidelines and policies in local, national, and regional sex worker advocacy. 

Contents include:

This resource is a Community Guide to the Briefing Paper: Sex Workers’ Lack of Access to Justice. It provides an overview of the full Briefing Paper, and provides key recommendations for policy makers and service providers. 

You can download this 5-page Community Guide above. It is now available in English, French, Russian, Spanish, and Chinese.

Sex workers around the world face a wide range of barriers to accessing justice, both as victims of crime and when charged with crimes. Since sex work is widely criminalised, most sex workers are denied access to the benefits and rights afforded to other workers under labour laws and face the risk of criminalisation, detention, deportation and legal sanction.

This resource is a Community Guide to the Briefing Paper: Shrinking Spaces and Silencing Voices. It provides an overview of the full Briefing Paper, and provides key recommendations for policy makers and service providers. 

You can download this 5-page Community Guide above. It is now available in English, French, Russian, Spanish, and Chinese.

Funding for sex worker-led organisations is shrinking, as has the space for the voices of sex workers, resulting in sex workers having less influence in programmes, policies and other decisions that affect their lives. Civil society organisations and other stakeholders now feel they have the right to funding and advocacy platforms, either because they work with sex workers and are therefore ‘experts’ who can speak for sex workers, or they wish to exclude sex workers’ voices entirely because they refuse to recognise sex workers’ rights as human rights.

This case study is the third of five case studies that will be published on a yearly basis from 2016-2020. These case studies will monitor and document the impact of international guidelines and policies on sex work that NSWP and NSWP members have helped develop. NSWP will also monitor how members use these international guidelines in local, national and regional advocacy efforts. Examples of international guidelines include the Amnesty International Policy on State Obligations to Respect, Protect, and Fulfil the Human Rights of Sex Workers, the Sex Worker Implementation Tool, and the development of the UN Women policy on sex work.

Legislation around sex work can be extremely complex; different legal models exist in different countries and sometimes even within countries. NSWP published a mapping of national legislation used to regulate and criminalise sex work in 208 countries and dependencies, with sub-national legislation included for some countries.

This case study is the first of five case studies that will be published on a yearly basis from 2016-2020. These case studies will monitor and document the impact of international guidelines and policies on sex work that NSWP and NSWP members have helped develop. NSWP will also monitor how members use these international guidelines in local, national and regional advocacy efforts. Examples of international guidelines include the Amnesty International Policy on State Obligations to Respect, Protect, and Fulfil the Human Rights of Sex Workers, the Sex Worker Implementation Tool, and the development of the UN Women policy on sex work.

In August 2015, the International Council of Amnesty International voted in favour of a resolution to develop and adopt a policy that protects the human rights of sex  workers, including full  decriminalisation of all aspects of consensual sex work between adults. This case study reflects on the process towards Amnesty International's resolution, its impact so far and on the roles of NSWP and NSWP member organisations in this process.

This case study reflects on the development and impact of the Sex Worker Academy Africa (SWAA). The SWAA is a ground-breaking learning programme for community empowerment and capacity building, led by and for sex workers. The Academy brings together national teams of sex workers from across Africa to develop organising skills, learn best practices, stimulate national sex worker movements, and strengthen the regional network.

This is a Community Guide to the Advocacy Toolkit: The Real Impact of the Swedish Model on Sex Workers, a collection of papers on the harmful Swedish model. It can be used to challenge the widespread promotion of this detrimental legal and political approach to the regulation of sex work.