‘Social protection’ refers to measures designed to prevent and address situations which negatively affect people’s well-being, as well as measures which reduce vulnerability and facilitate social and economic stability. Sex workers are frequently viewed as requiring protection due to the predominant misconception of sex workers as ‘victims’ of trafficking and exploitation.
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Sex workers were among the hardest hit at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to be impacted by this global public health crisis. The challenges that sex workers faced before COVID-19, as a result of criminalisation, stigma and discrimination, were all exacerbated by the pandemic.
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.
Performer-Centred Pornography as Sex Workers' Rights: Developing Labour Standards in a Criminalised Context
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.
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.
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.
Managing Sex Work: information for third parties and sex workers in the incall and outcall sectors of the sex industry
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.
This paper, written by Phil Marshall, briefly raises some issues around the demand side of trafficking, initially focusing on demand relating to exploitative labour practices and then discussing issues around demand contributing to exploitation for sexual purposes. It is very much an opinion piece, intended to promote discussion.
An analysis on indoor sex work settings in seven European cities and a manual on examples of good practices in the work with sex workers. The manual has two objectives: To provide an analysis on local level of the indoor prostitution scene, and to present examples of good practice for service providers regarding the implementation of new outreach methodologies in order to encourage a broader development of comprehensive indoor outreach services.
This report presents the expert opinions of sex workers and their experiences working within the current legal framework. The affidavits highlight many ways in which Canada’s sex trade laws worsen the already harmful conditions under which sex workers live, add to the stigma of their employment and social position, and support the inference that sex workers are less worthy of value than other members of society. Given this evidence, it is argued that the laws violate the expression, liberty, security and equality provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is found that these violations cannot be justified in a free and democratic society. This report also puts forward recommendations for law reform in Canada.
Rights Not Rescue: A Report on Female, Male, and Trans Sex Workers' Human Rights in Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa
The criminalisation of sex work in Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa leaves sex workers vulnerable to sexual and physical abuse, as well as extortion, from law enforcement officers such as police and border guards. Human rights violations and a lack of safe and supportive working conditions render sex workers particularly vulnerable to HIV. These are some of the findings of this report on the health and rights challenges confronted by female, male, and transgender sex workers in Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa.
This paper addresses the persistence of violence against female commercial sex workers in the United States, drawing on the experiences of the Best Practices Policy Project in conducting outreach, research, and relationship building with diverse commercial sex worker stakeholders.
On June 4, 2004, the Assembly Committee on Labour and Employment conducted an informational hearing in response to the recent incidence of HIV among adult industry performers in California.