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.
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.
Fuckförbundet launched a new report - "20 Years Of Failing Sex Workers" - as part of their 2019 conference "Sex Work, Human Rights And Health: Assessing 20 Years Of Swedish Model". It brings together available evidence from sex workers on the impact of the law. Contents include:
Human Rights Watch and the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) have released a new report recommending the decriminalisation of sex work in South Africa, in order to protect the safety and wellbeing of women, and respond to the HIV pandemic.
This shadow report was submitted by Congolese sex worker-led organisations UMANDE and ACODHU-TS during the 73rd CEDAW Session, which took place June-July 2019.
Sisonke-Botswana and Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV and AIDS (BONELA) submitted this shadow report during the 72nd CEDAW Session, which took place February-March 2019. The report elaborates on the situation of cisgender and transgender women who are sex workers in Botswana. The report focuses the criminalisation of sex work; violence, abuse, and failure to act on reports of violence by police; stigma and discrimination faced by sex workers in accessing health services, and lack of free antiretrovirals for migrants.
In February 2016, following pressure from fundamental feminist and abolitionist organisations, the Serbian government criminalised the purchase of sexual services through amendments to the Public Law and Order Act. Sex workers were ignored during discussion that preceded the adoption of the law. Selling sex remains criminalised. Criminalisation of the purchase of sexual services in Serbia has increased sex workers’ vulnerability to violence and marginalisation and reduced their access to services. Police continue to perpetrate violence against, extort money from, and ignore reports of violence against sex workers. Fundamental feminist and abolitionist discourse has increased the exclusion of sex workers from the women’s and LGBT organisations in the country.
STOPAIDS has published a new position paper supporting the decriminalisation of sex work, designed to support STOPAIDS members to advocate for decriminalisation within their own advocacy and programmes, and support the global sex worker rights movement.
This Briefing Note outlines the problems with the conflation of the term 'sexual exploitation' with sex work, and how this exacerbates harms to sex workers.
Amnesty International has released a new report highlighting the routine use of rape, violence and torture by police to punish women sex workers in the Dominican Republic. The report - ‘If they can have her, why can’t we?’ - uses testimony from 46 Dominican cisgender and transgender women sex workers, and reports them suffering various forms of violence at the hands of police.
This Briefing Note outlines the key areas within social protection systems that must be addressed in order to meet the needs of sex workers.
NSWP submitted a written submission for the CEDAW discussion on the General Recommendation on Trafficking in Women and Girls in the Context of Global Migration as part of the 72nd session, 18th February – 8th March 2019.
Abuses against sex workers and erosions of HIV prevention efforts resulting from anti-trafficking initiatives
The following is direct testimony from a Pondicherry-based NGO, Society for Development, Research & Training (SFDRT) describing exactly how anti-trafficking programmes are rolling out IN PRACTICE. Whatever the theory of anti-trafficking, UNAIDS, ILO, UNDP, USAID and others must see that in practice anti-trafficking initiatives are a direct threat to sexual health programmes and to the human rights of sex workers and migrants. – November, 2002.
It is indeed an additional burden to work with HIV/AIDS preventive programme with that of trafficking issues but at the same time it is quite evident that those of whom are working on STD/HIV/AIDS are the best to work on anti-trafficking issues too. With an example sited below where in the staff of SFDRT with four other NGOs were invited by the top officials of the police dept. in Pondicherry for a topic on anti-trafficking and NGOs support.
The European Union and its Member States generally acknowledge the positive value of international migration when it takes place in a regulated and predictable manner. They are alarmed, however, by irregular migratory movements. Indeed, in the face of the perceived threat posed by this phenomenon, States have introduced a series of measures to deter or prevent migrants from gaining unauthorised entry into their territories. The blanket enforcement of such measures makes it increasingly difficult for refugees and asylum-seekers to secure access to international protection. With this concern in mind, UNHCR must stress that the Action Plan contained in the Commission Communication on a Common Policy on Illegal Immigration and subsequently adopted by the Member States strike a proper balance between migration control priorities and refugee protection imperatives.
Research for Sex Work 5: Health, HIV and Sex Work - the Influence of Migration and Mobility is a peer-reviewed publication for sex workers, activists, health workers, researchers, NGO staff and policy makers. It is available in English. All issues of Research for Sex Work can be found here.
Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights
and Human Trafficking
Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Human Rights to the Economic and Social Council.
You can download this 16 page PDF resource above. This resource is in English.
The Annotated Guide to the new UN Trafficking Protocol is a tool to assist advocates in the development of a human rights framework for national anti-trafficking laws and policies. In December 2000, the UN adopted international instruments to fight transnational organized crime and additional agreements or protocols to combat trafficking in persons, smuggling and firearms.
Knowledge and experience about how to work with sex workers on health issues remains incomplete and controversial. However, by bringing together epidemiological data, operations and behavioural research, project reports and, most importantly, information from communities themselves, practical strategies, guiding principles and measures of success can be identified. A degree of consensus has emerged among frontline projects and key agencies, including many governments, about which combination of policies and programmes reduce HIV transmission during commercial sex.