Resources on sex work policy and violence

All these resources address violence that sex workers experience, either as its main topic or as part of a broader focus. Please stop saying sex worker activists ignore violence or exploitation or trafficking – we are the people who experience these things, after all! That’s why we want decriminalisation. That’s why we oppose stigma and discrimination.

Sex workers speak. Who listens?

Book by academic researchers

“This volume addresses the violence, exploitation, abuse, and trafficking present in the sex industries, but it does so from the perspective of sex workers themselves. These are the women, men, and transgender people who are directly touched by the abuse, exploitation, and trafficking under discussion, and they are the people who actively and collectively resist all forms of violence against them. By publishing their voices directly we hope to help readers resist indifference, on the one hand, and to become more critical of states’ interventions, which are widely regarded and legitimated as necessary to combat ‘trafficking’, on the other.”

The situation of national and migrant sex workers in Europe today

Briefing Paper by TAMPEP

“To fight against violations and abuse within the sex industry, EU member states have

been using anti-trafficking efforts to combat prostitution and migration instead of creating a safe and supportive environment for sex workers to work, self-organize and
ensure good working conditions. Dismantling the sex industry disrupts sex workers’ lives and work, and pushes them to illegality and isolation. At the same time, victims of human trafficking are rarely found and if they are, their needs are rarely addressed in an effective way. Policy makers conflate sex work and trafficking which results in ineffective policies
aimed at all sex workers and a complete disregard for the needs of sex workers that do not experience trafficking.”

Underserved. Overpoliced. Invisibilised. LGBT sex workers do matter

Report by ICRSE

“Sex work is a multi-gendered phenomenon, and sex workers of all genders and sexual orientations offer sexual services and are actively involved in the sex workers’ rights movement. Sex workers and LGBT people have long shared a common history: for instance, trans sex workers of colour have been among the main driving forces in the LGBT movement, as in the case of the Stonewalls riots, celebrated and commemorated all over the globe during Pride events. Since the 19th century, both female sex workers and lesbians have been treated as deviants and asocial women, differing from “normal women”, who engage in heterosexual sex taking place within marriage and for reproduction. The histories of gay and sex worker communities are also intertwined: sex workers and gay men have traditionally been part of the same subcultures, for instance places frequented by gay men were often the same places where sex work occurred.”

FAILURES OF JUSTICE: State and Non-State Violence Against Sex Workers and the Search for Safety and Redress

Research Report by SWAN

“This publication is about sex workers’ experiences of state and non-state violence, and hindered attempts to access justice in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The study was undertaken in sixteen countries of our region, with local research teams comprised of sex workers and allies joining efforts. It provides an insight on how stigma and the criminalization of sex work enables daily violence and repression that sex workers face from police and non-state actors. This entails barriers to accessing legal aid and justice, as well as harm reduction, health or social services.”

The Principles for Model Sex Work Legislation

Resource by Scarlet Alliance

“The Principles for Model Sex Work Legislation comprehensively outline core principles in sex work law reform. They act as an integral source of information and reference for politicians, government bodies, advocates, health providers, community sectors, current and potential sex workers, and sex industry owners and managers. These Principles have been developed by sex workers. They are the outcome of a five-stage consultation process with the Scarlet Alliance membership, including sex workers from a range of organisations and locations and with diverse experiences and backgrounds. The purpose of this process was to ensure the Principles reflect the voices, needs, objectives and consensus of sex workers in Australia. Putting sex workers voices at the centre of policy is a key step in creating law reform that is ethical, effective and sustainable. The Principles reflect contemporary research, literature and personal experiences, and are essential for anyone engaging in law reform or advocacy on sex work issues.”

Feminism needs sex workers. Sex workers need feminism. For a sex worker inclusive women’s rights movement.

Briefing Paper by European sex worker-led organisation ICRSE

“Sex workers in Europe and Central Asia often live and work in precarious and dangerous contexts. The reasons for this are the criminalisation of sex work, precarisation of labour, feminisation of poverty and structural, institutional and interpersonal violence against women and LGBT people. This briefing paper explores the intersection of feminist ideologies, women’s rights and sex workers’ rights, and the feminist ideals which are included and supported in sex work activism. It calls upon the feminist movement to consider the growing evidence in support of sex work decriminalisation, build an alliance with sex workers and their organisations, and actively support sex workers’ rights and the decriminalisation of sex work.”

Sex worker rights

“Sex workers all over the world face widespread violations of their human rights. Criminalisation and the severe stigma attached to sex work gives license to those who commit crimes of violence against sex workers and deny their humanity. It also makes it almost impossible for sex workers to access justice, healthcare, and social security systems. Sex workers would not be at such high risk of violence if they were respected as people and as workers, and if they felt free to seek help and protection without fear of being stigmatised, jailed, abused, and disregarded – in other words, if their human rights were respected.”

“The global sex workers’ rights movement is a collective term reflecting a diversity of movements, networks, groups and individual sex workers around the world. What they all have is common is a focus on collaborative action to challenge the criminalisation, marginalisation and stigmatisation of female, male and transgender sex workers and respect, protect and fulfil sex workers’ rights.”

Red Umbrella Fund

Mainstream media: let’s legalize sex work

Edit: mooooooore.

Forbes: Another Bad Argument For The Swedish Model For Prostitution
8 August

“They’re not actually counting either the amount nor the change in human trafficking into the sex trade.”  More. (Via @MistressMatisse)

The Economist: A Personal Choice
9 August

“The internet is making the buying and selling of sex easier and safer. Governments should stop trying to ban it.” More.

Slate: It’s Time for Legalized Prostitution
31 July

“The stigma associated with selling sex remains strong, as is the stigma against buying it. This is despite the growing evidence that decriminalizing the buying and selling of sex has significant public health benefits. ”More.

Time: What the Swedish Model Gets Wrong
19 July

“Making the purchase of sex a crime strips women of agency and autonomy. It should be decriminalized altogether.” More.

Huffington Post College: I Don’t Want Your Pity; Sex Work and Labor Politics
14 April

“Sex work is work: It’s a job. I’m lucky in that the job I chose to pay my bills just so happens to empower me and reward me in ways I didn’t imagine it could. I love my job. I don’t deny for a second that this isn’t the reality for everyone, and we need their stories too, but not to be stolen, reworked and retold by banner-waving academics or politicians, or minced up and stamped into cookie-cutter whores for television dramas.” More.

Salon: The problem with banning prostitution
25 February

“So what I raised in the book is that criminalization is a form of regulation. And it’s a form of workplace regulation in terms of control and power in the workplace, and the workers’ circumstances [are] in the hands of the police. And there isn’t any opportunity for security and oversight in that situation. ” More.

But wait, there’s more!

HuffPost Women: Sex Workers Have Labor Rights Just Like Any Other Employee in NZ

The Independent: decriminalize sex work to stop HIV, says former Health Secretary Lord Fowler.

Dazed: Porn performer or prima ballerina? They aren’t so different. Written by Stoya.

Infographic on myths & facts at Upworthy.


Have you read more articles by mainstream media outlets on legalizing sex work and fighting stigma? Please contribute to this overview in the comments!

Prostitutie controle

sekswerk-elvgrenBij een recente ‘prostitutie controle’ van de regionale politie werd me (weer) gevraagd hoe ik in prostitutie terecht was gekomen. Alsof het per ongeluk gebeurde.

“Ik wilde graag sekswerk doen en toen deed ik dat. Ik heb altijd al interesse gehad in sekswerk en zocht al langere tijd naar een goed escortbureau of een betrouwbare exploitant om bij te gaan werken. Toen ik iemand tegenkwam die tevreden was bij mijn huidige exploitant, heb ik het hier uitgeprobeerd. En toen bleek het superawesome te zijn!”

“Ja, je werkt hier toch al een aantal jaar.”

“Ja. Ik wil liever zelfstandig werken, ik sta de helft van mijn inkomsten hier af en dat vind ik vreemd, als zelfstandig ondernemer die een ruimte huurt. Maar ja, dat is onmogelijk als ik het legaal wil doen.”

De agenten knikken.


Sekswerk is werk

Sex work is work. Zoals een anonieme sekswerker schrijft; “it takes skills, you need to love people, be patient, be confident, make them feel at ease and entertain.”

Ik heb leuke klanten en stomme klanten. Ik heb gezellige dagen waarop ik babbel met collega’s en saaie dagen waarop ik niet kan wachten tot sluitingstijd. Ik leer nieuwe dingen om beter te worden in wat ik doe. Prostitutie is een legitieme branche en mijn baan is een echte baan.

Ik ben niet vies. Ik ben niet gek. Niemand hoeft mij te redden. Als je me wilt helpen, erken dan mijn rechten.

Maak het makkelijker om een locatie te vinden zodat ik als zelfstandige aan de slag kan. Geef meer vergunningen voor seksbedrijven zodat exploitanten rechtvaardige huurvoorwaarden moeten geven om sekswerkers aan te trekken. Maak mijn baan helemaal legaal zodat ik me kan wapenen tegen mensen die denken dat een hoer geen goede buurvrouw, geen goede moeder of geen goede werknemer buiten de seksbranche kan zijn. Waarom zouden ze iets anders geloven, als mijn overheid me niet eens wilt steunen?

Geef om te beginnen sekswerkers een stem in de discussie. Leer van hun kennis en ideëen. Laat hen het onjuiste stereotype van de hoer als slachtoffer omverschoppen.