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Creating an Enabling Legal and Policy Environment for Sex Workers

This thematic discussion paper for the October 2010 Consultation on Sex Work and HIV in Asia and the Pacific captures many of the complex issues around sex work and law. Among its recommendations are: 

1. Decriminalize sex work by removing laws and policies that prevent sex workers accessing safe places to live and work and reduce their access to health services, justice and labour rights
(including local ordinances, state level regulations, and others). This includes laws against buying and selling sex and operating sex businesses. Replace those laws with regulations, laws and policies similar to those that govern other businesses and activities.

2. Formally recognize sex work as an occupation to enable sex workers to obtain benefits derived by workers, including the ability to claim state benefits, form labour unions and access banking,insurance and pension schemes.

3. Conduct a thorough mapping of the legal and policy environment (including the relevant laws, policies, practices, and access to justice by sex workers).

4. End mandatory testing and forced rehabilitation or treatment of sex workers.

5. Raise awareness on the negative impact of anti-trafficking laws and laws aiming to criminalize the purchase of sex on human rights of sex workers in order to immediately stop further development and implementation of such laws.

6. Support organizational development and capacity building of sex worker organizations and networks in order for sex workers to raise awareness and advocate for their rights, prevention
of abuse, and access justice.

Theme: 

Human Rights and Law

Author: 

Thematic Task Team on Creating an Enabling Legal and Policy Environment

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