The Paulo Longo Research Initiative is a collaboration of researchers, policy analysts and sex workers working within the sex workers rights movement to improve the human rights, health and well being of sex. workers. Led by independent sex workers, and named after sex worker activist Paulo Henrique Longo, PLRI is committed to developing, consolidating and disseminating
Sex work policy and research – room for improvement
Although there are many excellent books, essays and studies about sex work – including several by sex workers – a great deal of scholarship on sex work is misguided and stigmatizing. Sex workers frequently complain that much of what is written about them reflects prejudices and myths rather than the reality of their lives. Advocates of rights based policy and programmes also complain frequently about the lack of quality research to provide evidence to guide their work.
The study of sex work has a complex history that reflects shifting understandings of links between prostitution, sex, gender and public health, law, economics and human rights.
Research on sex work is made difficult by a lack of agreed standards and methodologies. Indeed generally accepted definitions of prostitution, sex work and sex workers do not exist. As a result literature dealing with commercial sex is uneven. For example, the role of female sex workers in HIV epidemics has been studied extensively while male and transgender sex workers have not, despite serious sub-epidemics in these communities.
The economics of sex work, income redistribution and labour issues have received comparatively little attention despite the important roles they play in the lives of sex workers, their clients, families and the broader community.
Most recently discussion about sex work has been reframed as a dialogue about human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Sex workers activists around the world struggle to be heard in this debate.
Linking research and policy is a persistent concern. Sex workers rights advocates must access information scattered across the internet sites and most have no access to the articles in academic journals that form the evidence base for policy and law making. PLRI aims to help bridge that gap.
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