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.
By recognising sex workers as experts and meaningfully involving them in all policies, programmes, discussions, and decisions which affect their lives, allies can play a crucial role advancing sex workers’ human rights and supporting sex worker-led organisations. At the same time, allies can also undermine, invisibilise, and exclude sex workers – whether intended or not – when these principles are not upheld.
The Global Fund has established Codes of Conduct which employees, resource recipients, suppliers, Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) members, and governance officials must uphold while carrying out their work. One of the requirements, which applies to all parties under these codes, is to prohibit ‘sexual exploitation.’ Due to widespread conflations of sex work with ‘sexual exploitation,’ however, there is concern that this provision may be misinterpreted to exclude sex workers.
The right to participation in public and political life is enshrined in international human rights law. Broadly, ‘public life’ refers to the realm in which political processes and activities occur. Participation in public life can be formal or informal, taking place from the grassroots to global levels. Through diverse forms of engagement in public life, sex workers have successfully influenced policies, programmes, practices, and discussions which affect their lives.
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.
Misinformation on sex work has flourished for centuries, fuelled by age-old stereotypes, myths, and moral judgments which continue to shape policies and public opinions. Whether falsehoods are disseminated to deliberately deceive, or are shared unknowingly, the spread of inaccurate and misleading information on sex work has significant consequences.
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.
This document is a practical tool for organisations to self-assess whether they meaningfully involve sex workers, and for sex worker-led organisations to assess whether they are meaningfully involved.
This NSWP Briefing Note provides information about the United States’ recent legislation - The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) and Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) -that criminalise online platforms used by sex workers for advertising and information sharing, including for safety purposes. The resource provides details on FOSTA/SESTA and the 'End Banking for Human Traffickers Act', which aims to ‘prevent financial transactions involving the proceeds of severe forms of trafficking'.
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.