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This report focuses on indoor sex work primarily because, while these sex workers are largely invisible, they face many of the same problems as the more visible street-based prostitutes. The stereotypes of indoor sex workers encompass only extremes of either wealth and glamour or coercion and violence. The true picture reveals a more nuanced reality—the majority of indoor sex workers in this study live surprisingly precarious lives, and encounter a high level of exactly the same problems faced by street-based sex workers, including violence, constant fear of police interference, and a lack of substantive support services. Finding concrete and reality-based solutions to the needs of this invisible, vulnerable, and marginalised community is imperative to helping them create safe and stable lives.

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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.

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Prostitutes of New York is an organisation of many kinds of workers in New York City’s
sex industry. PONY is a member of the international Network of Sex Work Projects,
which advocates for the rights of sex workers around the world. We are concerned about
two keywords that have arisen in anti-sex work anti-trafficking advocacy: “demand” and
“dignity.” This statement addresses use of the term “Dignity.”

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