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Court-based research: collaborating with the justice system to enhance STI services for vulnerable women in the US http://t.co/3vEaFQVO
The fractal queerness of non-heteronormative migrant #sexworkers in the UK by Nick Mae http://t.co/X7oGFeDI
‘only 31% of the sample of indirect sex workers reported having been engaged in commercial sex in the last 12 months’
Old but good. Violence and Exposure to HIV among #sexworkers in Phnom Penh http://t.co/rkrRGiBa
Someone is Wrong on the Internet: #sex workers’ access to accurate information 

Human Rights and Law

PLRI is committed to examining the strengths and weaknesses of international human rights and domestic legal frameworks as they apply to sex work. We aim to evaluate the impact of various international and domestic laws and policies on the human rights of female, male and transgender sex workers and their communities.

Sex workers universally claim that their human rights are abused. In some cases this means exposure to violence and barriers to accessing services, resources and justice. In other cases arbitrary detention, criminal law and lack of access to clean safe places to live and work are cited as human rights issues.

International human rights standards and norms have traditionally constructed sex work as an affront to human dignity and as a result have failed to endow sex workers with the range of rights normally accorded to others unimpeded by occupational or moral status. The conflation of adult female prostitution with trafficking and child abuse that has occurred this decade has lead to the revival of law enforcement in many countries which appears to have lead to human rights abuses.

Questions about what legal and policy approaches can best protect sex workers, clients and the broader society are of great importance to sex worker advocates. PLRI seeks to illuminate a range of issues around law and human rights in respect of sex work and aims to resource sex workers to engage in local, national and international debates about what mix of laws and policies can best protect and advance their human rights.

  • Trafficking? Exploring the relevance of the notion of human trafficking to describe the lived experience of sex workers in Cape Town, South Africa – 2011

    This article reports on the findings of a study of the sex work industry in Cape Town that was undertaken by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) between 2006 and 2008. The study employed qualitative and quantitative methods to gather data about inter alia, the size of the sex work industry in Cape Town, working conditions in the industry, recruitment practices, factors that resulted in women working in the industry, and the extent of human trafficking in the industry.

  • Verbal Abuse: Anti-Trafficking Rhetoric and Violence Against Women – 2011

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    Sherief Gaber offers a fascinating and thorough analysis of anti-trafficking rhetoric and the ideology and actions it drives.

  • Violence against sex workers is prevalent in Cambodia with customers and the police often the perpetrators – 2011

    Passed to protect women, the 2008 law on human trafficking and sexual exploitation has been used by authorities to justify the harassment and abuse of sex workers.

    But, Cambodian sex workers say it’s now time to demand their rights.Hundreds are gathered in the capital of Phnom Penh.They are clapping loudly as the host welcomes the first day of 16 days of activism against gender violence.They are wearing white shirts with the slogan: United we can end violence against women and bring the peace.”

  • What Do Transgender Women’s Experiences Tell Us about Law? Towards an Understanding of Law as Legal Complex – 2011

    Based on ethnographic study conducted in Istanbul, this thesis investigates the effects of law and legal operations on transgender women’s sex work and daily lives, and seeks to disentangle the multidimensional ways through which they and their conduct are governmentalized by law in Turkey. The first part of the thesis discusses the legal dynamics surrounding transgender sex work and delineates how transgender women are expulsed from regulated sex work by the interaction of the socially produced desire around their bodies and law.

  • Sex Work to be legalised in Rwanda?

    Kigali — The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo, said yesterday, that Parliament could revisit a law banning prostitution which is currently before the Senate, days after the UNAIDS Regional Director – Eastern and Southern Africa, Prof Sheila Tlou, appealed to legislators to do so.

  • Sex Work, Criminalisation and HIV

    This article examines the reasons that there is less support for legalising sex work than homosexuality and drug use.

  • Sex Workers should not be criminalized This newsletter from Community Socio Economic Development Initiatives (CSDI) covers the proceedings of a meeting held on the 22nd and 23rd of February 2010. The meeting brought together Rwandan civil society organisations working on HIV & AIDS, health promotion and human rights and was lead by the Rwanda NGO Forum on AIDS Health Promotion and Fact Rwanda. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the provision in the draft penal code that would criminalize sex work. This legal provision, article 225, would sentence sex workers to 3 years in jail and a fine of 50.000 to 500.000 RWF.
  • Streetwalkers Show the Way: Reframing the Global Debate on Trafficking from Sex Workers’ Perspectives This paper documents action research and discussions on trafficking by Durbar, a network of 60,000 female, male and transgender sex workers in India. Durbar finds that the realities of trafficking as experienced by sex workers are very different from the myths. Durbar’s research found that while most of the sex workers they interviewed were poor and lacked options, they left home by their own choice, in search of better livelihoods, to escape violence or drudgery, or to seek love.
  • Taking the Pledge

    A short film by the International Network of Sex Work Projects. Taking the Pledge features sex workers from Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Mali, Thailand and more. They describe the problems created by the ‘anti-prostitution pledge’ required to receive USAID and PEPFAR funds. In English, Khmer, Thai, French, Portuguese and Bengali, with English subtitles. Watch in full-screen mode to read the subtitles.

  • The African Sex Worker Alliance launch new research on human rights

    headerimage-3734680The African Sex Worker Alliance (ASWA), Bar Hostess, Sisonke and SWEAT in conjunction with the Ford Foundation, OXFAM NOVIB, UNDP and OXFAM GB are to launch research on human rights violations against sex workers.

  • The Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers

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    The Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers provides this window on the internet for all the issues affecting male, female and transgender sex workers in the region that is home to half of the population of the world.

  • UN Independent Commission on Aids and the Law.

    The UN has established an Independent Commission on AIDS and the Law to develop actionable, evidence-informed and human rights based recommendations for law and policy reform, which will facilitate supportive national legal environments. The Commission will focus on some of the most challenging legal issues in the context of HIV, including criminalization of HIV transmission and behaviors and practices such as drug use, sex work and same sex sexual relations.

  • Understanding the Context of HIV Risk Behavior Among HIV-Positive and HIV-Negative Female Sex Workers and Male Bar Clients Following Antiretroviral Therapy Rollout in Mombasa, Kenya

    Article in AIDS Educ Prev 2011 Aug;23(4):299-312.

  • Using human rights to address consequences of criminal laws on sexuality and reproductive autonomy

    Laws criminalising behaviour in the context of HIV and sexual and reproductive autonomy directly and indirectly violate fundamental rights of people belonging to some of the most vulnerable groups in society. States have a duty to protect and provide for the health, life and safety of their people, which includes ensuring that the consequences of policies and legislation do not infringe upon the basic tenants of human rights law.

PLRI is committed to examining the strengths and weaknesses of international human rights and domestic legal frameworks as they apply to sex work. We aim to evaluate the impact of various international and domestic laws and policies on the human rights of female, male and transgender sex workers and their communities.

Sex workers universally claim that their human rights are abused. In some cases this means exposure to violence and barriers to accessing services, resources and justice. In other cases arbitrary detention, criminal law and lack of access to clean safe places to live and work are cited as human rights issues.

International human rights standards and norms have traditionally constructed sex work as an affront to human dignity and as a result have failed to endow sex workers with the range of rights normally accorded to others unimpeded by occupational or moral status. The conflation of adult female prostitution with trafficking and child abuse that has occurred this decade has lead to the revival of law enforcement in many countries which appears to have lead to human rights abuses.

Questions about what legal and policy approaches can best protect sex workers, clients and the broader society are of great importance to sex worker advocates. PLRI seeks to illuminate a range of issues around law and human rights in respect of sex work and aims to resource sex workers to engage in local, national and international debates about what mix of laws and policies can best protect and advance their human rights.

  • The Tragedy of Human Trafficking: Competing Theories and European Evidence† – 2012

    This paper explores an issue that is both domestic and international: whether legalization of prostitution leads to an increase in human trafficking. For both theory and public policy, this is an important query to answer, with implications beyond the cases in question. The principal domains of investigation are Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands. These states subscribe to UN, EU, Council of Europe and OSCE agreements and are located in the same geographic region, yet have adopted opposite approaches to prostitution.

  • Violence Against Chinese Female Sex Workers in Hong Kong: From Understanding to Prevention – 2012

    Violence against sex workers is considered a global phenomenon. Despite this, very little is known about the patterns and nature of this form of violence. This article is concerned with violence against Chinese female sex workers in Hong Kong. Based on a systematic analysis of 75 police case files, it was found that violent attacks on sex workers display clear temporal and spatial patterns, and that perpetrators share certain characteristics.

  • Whore’s Glory – 2012

    WHORES’ GLORY is a film on prostitution: three countries, three languages, three religions. In Thailand, women wait for clients behind glass panes, staring at reflections of themselves. In Bangladesh, men go to a ghetto of love to satisfy their unfulfilled desires on indentured girls. And in Mexico, women pray to a female death to avoid facing their own reality.

  • Effectiveness of an Adapted Evidence-Based Woman-Focused Intervention for Sex Workers and Non-Sex Workers: The Women’s Health Co-op in South Africa – 2011

    An article in the Journal of Drug Issues, Volume 41, Issue 2, Spring 2011, p.233-252.

  • Facilitating access to sexual health services for men who have sex with men and male-to-female transgender persons in Guatemala City – 2011

    Article in Culture, Health and Sexuality.

    The purpose of this study was to identify barriers to accessing sexual health services among gay, bisexual and heterosexual-identifying men who have sex with men and male-to-female transgender persons in Guatemala City, to inform the development of high quality and population-friendly services. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 29 purposively sampled individuals, including 8 transgender, 16 gay/bisexual and 5 heterosexual-identifying participants.

  • Sex Work and Feminism – 2011

    This is a clear article that outlines debates around feminism and sex work by Australian activist Kate Holden.

  • Bedford v. Canada: a paradigmatic case toward ensuring the human and health rights of sex workers – 2011

    Article in HIV AIDS Policy Law Rev. 2011 Oct;15(3):1, 5-14.

  • Listen to sex workers: support decriminalisation and anti-discrimination protections – 2011

    Article in Interface: a journal for and about social movements, Volume 3(2): 271 – 287 (November 2011).

    Despite the massive achievements of the Prostitutes Collective of Victoria and the historic significance of this important organisation, sex workers as a community and the funds we had attracted drew an unhealthy level of interest from the health and community sector, stemming from a perception that sex workers were politically unable to run their own collective, and that the funds we had lobbied for could be better spent by people who were not sex workers.

  • Measuring perceived stigma in female sex workers in Chennai, India – 2011

    Although sex work is highly stigmatized throughout the world, a limited body of research has examined stigma among female sex workers (FSWs). We developed a Sex Worker Stigma (SWS) Index to measure perceived stigma among 150 FSWs in Chennai, India. These women were at a median age of 35 years and reported, on average, having engaged in sex work for nine out of the previous 12 months. The two-factor structure of the index was verified in both exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses with acceptable goodness of fit.

  • Sex Trafficking and Initiation-Related Violence, Alcohol Use, and HIV Risk Among HIV-Infected Female Sex Workers in Mumbai, India – 2011

    The control of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI) is a challenge in China, with female sex workers (FSW) and male clients suspected as bridge groups. This study used a 2006 national probability survey of 2,707 adult men. Among men 15–49 years old, the prevalence of FSW contacts last year was 4.2% (95% CI, 3.3–5.2) overall, with 7.2% (CI, 5.9–8.7) in urban and 1.8% (CI, 1.0–3.3) in rural areas.

  • Proposal to European Parliament recommending the Swedish Model – 2014

    Mary Honeyball, Labour’s Spokesperson on the European Parliament’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee, has been a vocal supporter of anti-sex work legislation and has written a report to the European Parliament recommending the Swedish Model, which criminalises the purchase of sex. In a blog leading up to the discussion Alex Bryce and other prominent service providers in the UK condemn the move and encourage the Parliament to listen to sex workers.

  • Modern Prostitution Reform and the Return of Volitional Consent – 2014

    For decades, prostitution laws in America have focused exclusively on contractual consent: the agreement to exchange sexual services for a fee. Courts and legislatures alike ignored volitional consent, or traditional mens rea, by concentrating on the offer and acceptance of the prostitution agreement. In this way, the law disregarded the actor’s choice to engage in the crime. The de facto strict liability nature of the offense rendered it nearly impossible for prostitutes to successfully raise the defenses of duress and necessity.

  • Modern Prostitution Reform and the Return of Volitional Consent – 2014

    For decades, prostitution laws in America have focused exclusively on contractual consent: the agreement to exchange sexual services for a fee. Courts and legislatures alike ignored volitional consent, or traditional mens rea, by concentrating on the offer and acceptance of the prostitution agreement. In this way, the law disregarded the actor’s choice to engage in the crime. The de facto strict liability nature of the offense rendered it nearly impossible for prostitutes to successfully raise the defenses of duress and necessity.

  • Never Innocent Victims:Street Sex Workers in Canadian Print Media – 2014

    Over the past decade, street sex workers and their families garnered considerable media attention through extensive coverage of disappeared and murdered women in Western Canada. The research presented here examines whether recent media accounts differ from past coverage given that families and friends of disappeared and unaccounted for women inserted themselves into media discussions and circulated alternative readings of their stories.

  • Participation in Prostitution: Associated Outcomes Within Familial Relationships – 2014

    An analysis if different political conceptualisations of sex work.

  • “Custody and Education”: Arbitrary Detention for Female Sex Workers in China – 2013

    The Chinese government is arbitrarily detaining sex workers through a flawed government policy purportedly aimed at education and rehabilitation, Asia Catalyst said in a new report released today. The report documents excessive use of force by police in the detention of female sex workers, as well as the women’s subsequent incarceration in the little-known “Custody and Education (C&E)” system.

  • Sex Work and Human Rights – 2013

    A useful outline of sex workers rights including the right to health

  • A Regressive Move Which Would Further Stigmatise and Endanger Sex Workers – 2012

    Last week Rhoda Grant MSP and Lord Morrow were invited to speak about their respective proposals to criminalise the purchase of sex in Scotland and Northern Ireland at an event in the House of Commons tellingly entitled ‘Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation: Tackling Demand in the UK’.

    These proposals represent a radical change to the criminal law in this area and, if passed, would have severe consequences for sex workers. They are not supported by public opinion, academic evidence, sex workers themselves or by the majority of those delivering front-line support to sex workers.

  • Common Prostitutes and Ordinary Citizens: Commercial Sex in London, 1885-1960 – 2012
  • Condom Use among Female Commercial Sex Workers in Nevada’s Legal Brothels – 2012

    Nevada is the only US state in which commercial sex is legal. Since 1971, counties of fewer than 400000 people
    have been able to elect to legalize brothels. At present, there are 32 legal brothels employing about 300 licensed prostitutes. Licensed brothel sex workers undergo weekly state-mandated medical examinations for gonorrhea, herpes, and venereal warts and monthly blood tests for syphilis. In March 1986, the Nevada Board of Health began requiring a negative initial human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) antibody test and negative monthly tests thereafter as a condition of employment. If a brothel worker or applicant is found to be seropositive, her employment is immediately terminated or denied.

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