18 Reasons for Decriminalisation of Sex Work

1. The Amnesty International consultation group found that sex workers face high levels of stigma and discrimination in a criminalised environment.

2. Placing “criminal status” on sex workers through a myriad of laws compounds that prejudice against them.

3. Sex workers face shame and marginalisation by police, friends, family, employers and providers of public services due to this “criminal status”.

4. Segregating sex workers through legislation sets sex workers apart from communities.

5. This segregation places them at odds with police and increases the risk of violence against them.

6. Future employers will not wish to hire sex workers who have been labelled as “criminals” by sex work legislation.

7. Sex workers are stigmatised as being spreaders of HIV, which discourages them from seeking assistance from sexual and reproductive health information and services.

8. Behaviour of nurses and other medical professionals prevent sex workers from going back to the health services.

9. Even when sex work is not criminalised and legislation takes the form of criminalisation of purchase of sex (ie. Nordic Model), there is a direct effect of making workplaces significantly more dangerous for sex workers.

10. Criminalisation of certain aspects of sex work such as laws relating to “nuisance” enables law enforcement to unfairly “profile” sex workers, particularly street based sex workers.

11. Laws which prevent advertisement of sex services drives more sex workers into street based sex work which is universally recognised as the least safest form of sex work.

12. Enacting laws which do not allow two sex workers to work together in the same premises places individual sex workers at risk, forcing them to work in premises alone and without support.

13. Criminalising the purchase of sex makes clients agitated and nervous, and thus seek sexual services in a rushed manner. This does not allow sex workers to do appropriate due diligence and safety checks before accepting bookings.

14. Criminalisation can provide police with immunity to abuse sex workers. Studies in some countries have shown that police are found to extort money or rape sex workers without punishment from law enforcement.

15. Police immunity against violence against sex workers makes sex workers suspicious of law enforcement and are unlikely to seek police assistance when they are in danger.

16. Reporting danger to police means that police and other “rescue organisations” will force the sex worker to cease providing sexual services, therefore denying the sex worker of her right to earn.

17. Rescue organisations push for criminalisation of sex work but fail to provide adequate services and support to assist sex workers in finding alternative employment.

18. Migrant street workers find that the police will not assist them because of intersectional discrimination that they face.

********Adapted from Amnesty International’s Draft Policy on Sex Work



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s