Sex workers and their allies face significant obstacles in the fight to improve the health and wellbeing of sex workers globally. In the Smart Sex Worker’s Guide: Addressing the Failure of Anti-Sex Work Organisations, NSWP explore the effects of anti-sex work programming and anti-trafficking initiatives that deny sex workers their human rights. The Smart Guide explores organisations whose work puts sex workers at risk, directly or indirectly, and provides key strategies from NSWP members on how to combat these approaches.
Today marks the 13th annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. For thirteen years, sex workers have used this day to highlight the need for action to end violence against sex workers.
The issues faced by sex workers vary from region to region. These differences are due to different laws, social and cultural contexts, but one common issue faced by all sex workers is their vulnerability to and experience of violence.
This global statement draws attention to the fact that all sex workers are vulnerable to violence because of the criminalisation and legal oppression of sex work, stigma, and discrimination. This vulnerability to violence is increased for sex workers living with HIV, sex workers who use drugs, transgender sex workers, migrant sex workers, and sex workers that are part of other marginalised groups.
We, the Bridging the Gaps alliance of global key population constituency networks, represented by the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC), the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP), the International Network of People Who Use Drugs (INPUD) and the Global Forum on Men Who Have Sex With Men and HIV (MSMGF), recognize that we are at a pivotal moment in our fight for the human rights of key populations and people living with HIV within the U.S. and in countries where the U.S. has hitherto provided important leadership.
NSWP has formally replied to UN Women's consultation "seeking views on UN Women approach to sex work, the sex trade and prostitution." This letter, sent to UN Women on the 21st of September, 2016, includes NSWP's responses to the three questions asked by UN Women in their online consultation. In addition to this letter, NSWP has published an online petition calling on UN Women to meaningfully include sex workers in the development of their policy on sex work. NSWP has also provided UN Women with a Draft Framework for a UN Women Human Rights Affirming Approach to Sex Work in response to UN Women E-Consultation.
NSWP has published a draft framework for a UN Women human rights affirming approach to sex work in response to a UN women e-consultation. NSWP received an invitation from UN Women to participate in a formal e-consultation on the 7 September 2016. However, such a process is biased towards those with privilege and will exclude the majority of sex workers in the global south who have limited access to the Internet. This resource for UN Women is in addition to NSWP's online petition of UN Women available here. Please sign and share the petition!
Gay Men, Transgender People and Sex Workers Outraged Over Failed Political Declaration From the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS
The Global Network of Sex Work Projects, The Global Network of Trans Women and HIV (IRGT), Global Action for Trans Equality (GATE), and MSMGF (The Global Forum on MSM & HIV) together with the Global Platform to Fast-Track the HIV and Human Rights Responses Among Gay and Bisexual Men and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men (The Platform) are deeply disappointed by the adoption of a flawed Political Declaration today at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS (HLM). The Political Declaration inexcusably fails to meaningfully address the HIV epidemic among key populations, including gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who use drugs, and transgender people.
Gay men and sex workers worldwide express anger over attempts by governments to erase key populations from the 2016 UN Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS.
On May 27th, new draft language was released for the 2016 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS, which is scheduled to be finalized in New York City next week (Wednesday, June 8 to Friday, June 10) at the United Nations. The Global Network of Sex Work Projects and MSMGF (The Global Forum on MSM & HIV) together with the Global Platform to Fast-Track the HIV and Human Rights Responses Among Gay and Bisexual Men and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men (The Platform) are deeply concerned with numerous changes made in the new draft, which erase key populations from the global HIV response. As the final political declaration will be issued during next week’s United Nations High-level Meeting on HIV and AIDS, we urge our partners to take bold and fast actions now to influence decisions made by UN delegation members.
NSWP welcomes Amnesty International’s Policy on State Obligations to Respect, Protect, and Fulfill the Human Rights of Sex Workers. Amnesty International calls for the decriminalisation of all aspects of adult consensual sex work including all laws which criminalise sex workers, clients, and third parties. Amnesty International also calls for the end of the discriminatory enforcement of other laws against sex workers, such as vagrancy, loitering, and immigration requirements.
NSWP wishes to clarify a number of issues in the light of some recent media coverage on the subject of the decriminalisation of sex work. Several articles have appeared recently that have made some alarmist and extremely misleading statements in response to an original article in the New York Times Magazine (published 5th May 2016).
As a sex worker-led global network with 262 member organisations across 77 countries from Africa, Asia Pacific, Caribbean, Europe, Latin America and North America, representing tens of thousands of sex workers from diverse cultures and experiences, NSWP has a fundamental right to be involved in consultations around international and national policies that impact on sex workers’ lives and work. Attempting to silence sex workers by denying our agency and calling us pimps, traffickers and industry lobbyists is unacceptable.
The sex workers’ rights movement is committed to the full decriminalisation of sex work in the belief that it will help sex workers organise to eliminate exploitation, oppression and violence and address unfair and abusive working conditions instituted by state and non-state actors. Branding the decriminalisation of third parties as an attempt to ‘legalise pimps and brothel keeping’ undermines sex workers in their struggle for labour rights and justice.
NSWP is calling on the Turkish government, Turkish police, and the Turkish justice system to take urgent action to uphold the human rights of male, female, and transgender sex workers. Sex workers have the same right to protection from the law and access to justice as other people. They also have the right to be treated with dignity and respect without discrimination. The occupation and gender identity of sex workers should never be used to deny access to justice, health services, or social services.
According to a 2015 survey by Transgender Europe entitled Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide Project, 79 percent of transgender sex workers interviewed in Turkey reported experiencing police harassment. According to the Project for the Mapping of Violence Against and Legal Support for Trans Sex Workers, one in every two sex workers has experienced violence, and 50 percent of this violence was perpetrated by the police.
Transgender sex workers in Turkey are particularly vulnerable to violence, including from the police. In May 2015, NSWP published an article about seven transgender women who were violently attacked in different cities across Turkey. Two days after these attacks, more than 100 people gathered in Ankara to protest about violence against transgender people in Turkey.