Who are sex workers?
sex workers are adults who receive money or goods in exchange for consensual sexual services or erotic perfomances, either regularly or occasionally
Why shouldn’t sex work be a crime?
Criminalization of sex work compromises sex worker’s health and safety by driving sex work underground. Criminalization includes everything from criminalizing the sale and purchase of sexual services, to blanket prohibitions on management of sex work. Criminalization makes it harder for sex workers to negotiate terms with clients, work together with other sex workers for safety. Sex workers in many settings report extreme levels of violence and harassment in connection with their work, including from clients, managers, and police. Criminalization makes it difficult for sex workers to report violations
What’s wrong with laws that target only the clients of sex workers?
Many opponents of sex work acknowledge the harms that result from criminalizing sex workers and support a system that criminalizes buyers and third parties—such as managers or brothel owners—but not sex workers themselves. This kind of criminalization, which is often referred to as the “Swedish” or “Nordic” model, seeks to end demand for sex work while treating sex workers as victims.
This model perpetuates stigma against sex workers, leading to discrimination in social services, housing, and health care, driving sex work underground and pushing sex workers away from safety and services.
Criminalization of clients and third parties hasn’t been effective in achieving its intended goal of abolishing—or even reducing—sex work. In France, for example, the purchase of sexual services was criminalized in 2016 and two years later later a study demonstrated that the impact on sex workers was severe, including major deterioration in living conditions and greater exposure to violence.
What is decriminalization of sex work?
Decriminalization means removal of criminal and administrative penalties that apply specifically to sex work, creating an enabling environment for sex worker health and safety. For decriminalization to be meaningful, it must be accompanied by a recognition of sex work as work, allowing sex work to be governed by labor law and protections similar to other jobs. It is a necessary condition to realize sex workers’ human rights.
FRANCE – PARIS
39 Bis Boulevard Barbès
SWITZERLAND – GENEVA
Rue des Pâquis 11
Tel: +41 22 732 68 28
UK – LONDON
Crossroads Women’s Centre
25 Wolsey Mews
Tel: 020 7482 2496