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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:

NSWP facilitated a delegation from member organisations to attend the 64th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The 64th CSW session was cut from almost two weeks to one day following the outbreak of COVID-19, and was attended by government delegations only. This meant that all side and parallel events were cancelled and the expected robust discussions between community organisations and governments, and the essential input from civil society to hold governments accountable, was entirely absent.

Download this resource: NSWP at CSW64, NSWP - 2020

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.

NSWP facilitated a delegation from member organisations to attend the 63rd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). This delegation aimed to amplify the voices of sex workers’ rights advocates in a space where fundamental feminists and abolitionist groups often dominate discussions about sex work, which do not reflect the diversity of sex workers’ lived experiences and realities. In this context, the conflation of trafficking and sex work is used to promote policies that undermine the rights of sex workers.

Download this resource: NSWP at CSW63, NSWP - 2019

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.

As new medical technologies are increasingly being promoted in the prevention and treatment of HIV, and heralded as interventions to be used within communities of key populations including sex workers, NSWP urges the international HIV community and donors to take the concerns of sex workers presented in this report seriously and continue meaningful engagement with key populations in this shift towards the use of biomedical interventions. For years sex workers around the world have been developing and sustaining sex worker-led HIV prevention, treatment, care and support programmes.