"If my boss is criminalised, I can't keep condoms with me at work": NSWP launches a third parties briefing
NSWP today launches a briefing that seeks to clarify the issue of decriminalisation and third parties. Drawing on the knowledge and lived experience of our member organisations around the world, our briefing challenges the simplistic and dangerous misrepresentation that it is possible to criminalise sex work, without harming sex workers.
Our briefing shows conclusively that where third parties are criminalised, sex workers suffer the consequences of that criminalisation.
NSWP’s core value relating to this is: ‘opposition to all forms of criminalisation and other legal oppression of sex work (including sex workers, clients, third parties*, families, partners and friends). The footnote reads, "The term ‘third parties’ includes managers, brothel keepers, receptionists, maids, drivers, landlords, hotels who rent rooms to sex workers and anyone else who is seen as facilitating sex work".
The debate around third parties has been characterised by a deliberate lack of nuance (and indeed, clarity) from those who seek to criminalise sex work. NSWP in this briefing highlights that the debate has focused on words like "pimp", which we prefer not to use on several grounds, but notably that it evokes a distinctly racialised stereotype. Global North lobbying groups that seek to override the voices of sex workers in the Global South, most of whom are people of colour, should perhaps consider the implications of populating their argument with such strikingly problematic language.
You can download this eight page resource in PDF format at the link below. The NSWP briefing covers:
● How the criminalisation of sex workers’ workplaces (and the third parties who run them) exposes sex workers to increased risk of HIV transmission, in contravention of the ILO’s recommendation 200.
● How the criminalisation of managers forces sex workers to work more unsafely, and how the decriminalisation of managers has enabled sex workers to challenge abusive working conditions, and refuse clients that they don’t want to see.
● How sex workers are prosecuted using third party laws, using condoms as evidence - which puts sex worker’s health at risk.
● How sex workers can be both sex workers and third parties, and thus prosecuted under third party laws when the state wishes to target sex workers - for instance, if two sex workers are working together for safety, they are each ‘third parties’ to the other.
● That the children or partners of sex workers are prosecuted as third parties, in contravention of article eight of the UN convention on human rights, that guarantees a right to a private and family life.
● How the police use third party laws to harass sex workers by targeting those who fall under third party laws - such as landlords - and thus ensuring that sex workers live in a state of housing insecurity.