Resources

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 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 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.

This resource was developed by PROUD, the Dutch union for and by sex workers, and Aidsfonds - Soa Aids Nederland, to explore the extent to which sex workers in the Netherlands experience stigma and violence. A total of 308 sex workers participated through questionnaires, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions from across the country, engaged in various types of sex work.

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 New Zealand, the Prostitution Reform Act was passed in 2003. Its purpose is to decriminalise prostitution. Following the Act, the Department of Labour, in cooperation with the New Zealand Prostitues Collective (NZPC), developed the Occupational Health & Safety guidelines for the sex industry. This article looks at the development and effects of the New Zealand approach. It was written by members of the NZPC and was published as part of Research for Sex Work 14: Sex Work is Work.

This large, Canadian research explores the perceived control and power within interactions between sex workers and their clients. Sex workers and clients report that most of their interactions are free of conflict and are characterised by relatively symmetrical dynamics of control and power. The ability to negotiate over the terms and conditions of the commercial sexual services offered and sought before meeting in person is linked to workers feeling more control over condom use and feeling more empowered compared to those whose first encounter with clients is face-to-face. This ability to clearly advertise services allows workers to more explicitly state what is and is not being offered so that there is less confusion over expectations, something  that most clients appear to appreciate  and desire for themselves.

In 2013, the Human Trafficking Intervention Courts (HTICs) were launched in New York. These courts were the USA's first statewide human trafficking intervention within a justice system. This research explores the impact of these courts through studying 364 cases in 2013 and 2014. It concludes that the HTICS do not respect the human rights of the people they process and distort the line between consent and coercion. This makes it more difficult for people who are victimised – by clients, ‘pimps’, police, and courts – to seek justice.

This research investigates sex workers’ opinions on support services in Berlin, Germany. In Berlin, support services for sex workers range from financial, health and legal support to psychosocial counselling and support with issues of migration, etc. Most are carried out by social workers at NGOs targeted at sex workers. While some of these NGOs advocate for sex worker rights, many aim to ‘rescue’ sex workers and to abolish sex work. The researcher concludes there is a discrepancy between support services demand and supply. This article was published in Research for Sex Work 14: Sex Work is Work.

This articles outlines the benefits and shortcomings of German sex work laws. It also describes the danges of  forthcoming revisions to Germany's policies. This article was written by Hydra e.V. and pubished as part of Research for Sex Work 14: Sex Work is Work.

This article explores the origins, use and meaning of the term ‘sex work’. It is written by sex worker and PhD student Elena Jeffreys and was published in Research for Sex Work 14: Sex Work is Work.

The Smart Sex Worker’s Guide to SWIT provides a short summary of the key points in Sex Worker Implemetation Tool (SWIT). The Sex Worker Implementation Tool (SWIT) offers practical guidance on effective HIV and STI programming for sex workers. It provides evidence for the necessity of decriminalisation of sex work, the involvement of sex workers in developing policy, and the empowerment and self-determination of sex work communities as a fundamental part of the fight against HIV. This resource is based on the WHO, UNFPA, UNAIDS and NSWP 2012 recommendations on HIV and Sex Work. The guide can be used by sex workers and sex worker organisations who are designing or running programmes for sex workers. It may also be useful as an advocacy tool when advocating for rights-based services.

INPUD’s Drug User Peace Initiative created the following resource, A War on Women who Use Drugs. This resource argues that the so-called ‘war on drugs’ is, in reality, a war on people who use drugs, with certain groups being subject to disproportionate abuse, human rights violations, stigma, and police attention. The resource documents the disproportionate harm of the war on drugs to women of colour, young women, poor women, and female sex workers. The resource pays particular attention to female sex workers, describing how female sex workers who use drugs suffer from double discrimination, stigma and criminalisation which in turn increase risks of abuse, violence, STIs and alienation from service provisions.

Download this resource: War on Women Who Use Drugs

This publication documents the lessons learned from the process of implementing a four-country research project on sex work and violence through the narratives and reflections of those who participated in the research since its inception in 2011. The publication was commissioned by the Centre for Advocacy on Stigma and Marginalization (CASAM) in consultation with APNSW, UNDP, UNFPA and P4P (Asia-Pacific regional offices in Bangkok). Funding for the travel to conduct interviews towards this documentation was provided by UNDP.

Download this resource: The Right(s) Process