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.
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.
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.
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 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:
A “working paper” prepared as background to Building on the Evidence: An International Symposium on the Sex Industry in Canada
This paper is a result of a research programme in Canada’s sex industry: workers and their intimate partners, managers and clients.
In 1999, the Swedish government embarked on an experiment in social engineering1 to end men’s practice of purchasing commercial sexual services. The government enacted a new law criminalizing the purchase (but not the sale) of sex (Swedish Penal Code). It hoped that the fear of arrest and increased public stigma would convince men to change their sexual behaviour. The government also hoped that the law would force the estimated 1,850 to 3,000 women who sold sex in Sweden at that time to find another line of work.
This paper places the development of sex workers’ movements over the past two decades within the historical context of feminist discourses on violence against women. The paper discusses the importance of the discourse on violence against women in framing contemporary abolitionist campaigns that seek to criminalize sex work. It goes on to discuss the contemporary context, including the status of alliances and dialogue between women’s, LGBTQ, and sex workers’ movements, focusing on India.
On June 4th, 2014 Justice Minister Peter MacKay introduced Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act. The draft legislation proposes a legal frameworkthat criminalises communication in public for the purpose of prostitution, the purchase ofsexual services, material benefit, and the advertisement of sexual services.
A number of people are excluded from the process and benefits of development because of their sexuality. Policies designed to lift people out of poverty, to provide employment and access to crucial services, all too often exclude those who do not conform to ‘normal’ sexual or gender identities. In many countries, this exclusion is also enforced through law.
This Report aims to summarize the arguments for and against the criminalisation of the purchase of sexual services. It first describes the experiences of Swedish and Dutch legal regulation relating to the purchase of sexual services. In Sweden, there is a wish to abolish sex work by way of criminalising the client. In the Netherlands, sex work is allowed within certain limits (only involuntary sex work comes under criminal rules).
Since 2003, US government funding to address the HIV and AIDS pandemic has been subject to an anti-prostitution clause. This clause requires aid recipients to adopt an organizational policy opposing sex work and requires them to keep away from the “promotion of prostitution”. Simultaneously, the efficacy of some HIV prevention efforts for sex work in areas receiving US government funding has diminished. This article seeks to explain the unintended yet adverse effects of the implementation of the pledge through case stories.
You can download this 13 page resource as a PDF below.
Silence on Violence: Improving Safety of Women - the policing of off-street sex work and trafficking in London
This report was written in the run-up to the Olympic Games, held in London 2012 and it considers two overacrhing areas related to womens' safety within sex work: the policing of sex trafficking, and within that the policing for the Olymipics; and the general policing of sex workers. The report focusses on off-street sex work as the evidence shows that it very rarely, if at all, involves trafficked women.
The Chinese government is arbitrarily detaining sex workers through a flawed government policy purportedly aimed at education and rehabilitation, Asia Catalyst said in a new report released in December 2013.
The report documents excessive use of force by police in the detention of female sex workers, as well as the women's subsequent incarceration in the little-known "Custody and Education (C&E)" system.
This resource is a briefing on why the organisation - the American Jewish World Service - fund sex worker rights organisations, but it is also a very effective introduction to the concept of sex worker rights, and the sex worker rights movement. It disccuses who sex workers are, and what is sex work, the rights of sex workers in places where sex work is illegal, and introduces a rights-based approach.
This resource commences by quoting Ronald Weitzer, who notes "the management of prostitution is one of the most invisible aspects of the trade". It goes on to discuss common prohibitionist discourse around sex work, that situates all possible study on the topic on a continuum between deviance and violence, before highlighting that this limited binary is "diametrically opposed to much of the scholarly literature, and, more importantly, to what sex workers are asserting - namely, that sex work is work".
The article explores the policy underpinning Sweden’s 1999 ban on the purchase of sexual services in the context of the social and health service sectors and the way that these sectors interact with sex workers. It argues that the rationale behind the sex purchase ban is difficult to reconcile with social policy outwith the 'merits' of criminal justice.
This article offers a historical account and critical assessment of the prostitution-reform debates’ considerable influence on anti-trafficking law and policy development over the last decade. The article exposes the difficulties of translating anti-prostitution ideology, borne out of closely held moral and ethical beliefs, into effective governance strategies.