It's time to get off the fence on sex workers’ rights

You cannot effectively combat human trafficking within the commercial sex sector without taking a stand on basic regulatory questions

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How can advocates effectively speak about and argue for decriminalised sex work?

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What is the best strategy for ensuring that people who sell sex are protected? Should the state ban it entirely? Should it allow the sale of sex but not its purchase, as the increasingly widespread ‘Nordic’ model does? Or decriminalise it altogether? These questions are endlessly repeated, but for sex workers themselves the debate is long over: only decriminalisation increases their safety. We believe them, so this is where our new series begins.

We invited sex workers and their allies around the world to share their experiences advocating for decriminalisation on openDemocracy. We also sought out stories from organisations that used to oppose decriminalising sex work but now support it. Our goal was to find out what works, what doesn’t and how it can be done better.

The response exceeds all our expectations. Sex workers and migrants have been organising against exploitation and abuse for a very long time, so any conversation about different strategies should prioritise their expertise and experience.

Happy reading!

Cameron Thibos
Managing Editor, Beyond Trafficking and Slavery

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Sex workers speak: who listens?

Gendered, racist, classist, homophobic, and transphobic violence haunts the world of sex work, and many of us believe that states, intergovernmental organisations, and NGOs should do more to help. Yet a lot is being done, the problem is the efficacy of these interventions. 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.

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