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 HIV Policy Lab – an online platform that gathers and monitors laws and policies adopted by countries around the world, documenting where key HIV science has been translated into policy –has developed a set of analyses to support advocacy around the UN High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS 2021 and 10-10-10 targets.
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.
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 key areas within social protection systems that must be addressed in order to meet the needs of sex workers.
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.
In Australia, certain sexual acts performed in pornography are deemed offensive and degrading in criminal law. Zahra Stardust demonstrates how performer-producers are resisting government classification and criminal laws by engaging in sex workers' rights activism through creating performer-centered spaces and pioneering best practices labour standards. This article was published as a part of Research for Sex Work 15: Resistance and Resilience.
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 article explores how the sex workers’ rights movement can build solidarity with other sectors of intimate labour, specifically domestic workers, in its fight to have sex work recognised as work. The article builds upon the notion of sex work as work in the context of a labour rights movement that can change the mechanics of organising decentralised labour.
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.
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.
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.
This resource builds on INCITE's substantial background in issues faced by women of colour, criminalised or street-based communities, and queer and trans youth, particularly around police and state violence. It focuses on how "police violence against sex workers is not perceived by mainstream organisations as either police brutality, or violence against women, when it is clearly a manifestation of both".
You can download this 4 page PDF resource above. this resource is in English.
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.
In 2011, the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective (NZPC) commissioned Kaitiaki to undertake an in-depth investigation to understand better the issues facing migrant sex workers in New Zealand especially with regard to occupational health and safety, and reproductive health.
The research project 'Rethinking Management in the Adult and Sex Industry', which led to the resource 'Beyond Pimps, Procurers, and Parasites', highlighted to the researchers that far from the demonised and racialised stereotype of the "pimp", third parties in the sex industry have complex, varied and frequently mundane relationships with sex workers. However, unlike in other industries, third party roles are often criminalised, which impacts upon the ability of sex workers to expect or create a safe working environment.
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".
This article looks at how legalisation came to the netherlands; what it was intended to do, and what the impact has been on sex workers. In order to answer these lines of enquiry, the article examines what discourses frame the major actors in this debate, starting with a historical overview of Dutch sex work policies throughout the 20th century. Having established the socio-political backdrop of the Netherlands' approach to legalised sex work, the resource discusses how legalisation (or regulationism) "did not solve a number of serious problems in the sex industry".
This reference text seeks to "clarify terms and illustrate examples of alternatives to the use of criminal law as a response to sex work". It provides capsule definitions - with small case-studies or examples - of what a variety of laws and policies look like in terms of their impact on sex work, covering criminalisation, legalisation, and decriminalisation, along with a mini-discussion of other laws that are used against sex workers, such as the criminalisation of HIV transmission, or immigration enforcement.