Resources

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 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.

Contents include:

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 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 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. 

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.

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.

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.

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). 

Download this resource: Smart Guide to CEDAW, NSWP - 2018