This report summarises the deliberations of a one day event entitled “Labour of Love” held on 17th December 2010, hosted by Women’s Organization Network for Human Rights Advocacy (WONETHA) in partnership with Uganda Harmonized Rights Alliance (UHRA). The event primarily sought to put a human face to the lives of sex workers as well as challenge the public silence on violence against them. The forum was attended by 55 participants, including sex workers, brothel owners and human rights activists. The event was organised against the background that sex workers have continuously suffered from abuse, discrimination and violence which often goes unreported and unacknowledged. In particular, the event illuminated the achievements, coping mechanisms, challenges and recommendations regarding sex work.
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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.
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.”