The standard paradigms through which sex work is currently viewed – AIDS, trafficking, and violence against women – fail to fully address the human rights of sex workers. It is therefore crucial that sex workers represent their own realities and fully participate in dialogues and decision making about issues that affect them. Achieving these requires sex workers to organise at local, national, regional and international levels. Local level organising helps to identify the actual issues faced by sex workers at grass roots level, and enables sex workers to respond through action with the local communities and authorities that discriminate against them. National level organising helps to feed the concerns of grassroots groups into national level forums, helps reset the agenda, and helps to identify factors such as legislation and resource allocation that affect sex workers.
Organising at international (including regional) level brings local and national level experiences to bear in international debates, particularly important given the global attention to issues such as AIDS, trafficking, migration and human rights. The NSWP has already achieved a great deal, but global acceptance of sex worker rights continues to be elusive, and is manifested by the continued abuses faced by sex workers all over the world. Against this backdrop, the NSWP plays a crucial role in supporting and facilitating sex workers voices and promoting human rights and public health.
The NSWP conducts a mix of pro-active and re-active policy advocacy to support human rights and evidence based approaches to female, male and transgendered sex workers and strengthening sex worker communities. The work is arranged around:
- Communications and advocacy. Information relevant to sex workers human rights and health is not sufficiently accessible, particularly for those who do not read English. The NSWP summarises, translates, and distributes relevant information to its members and beyond. This is particularly important for places where there are no organised sex workers groups or rights based sex work programmes. Five languages have currently been prioritised - Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. NSWP advocacy is supported by policy analysis, research and consultation with members.
- Building Capacity and Solidarity - Training and skills building for and among sex worker organisations and leaders, achieved by developing and providing tools, training, space, and support on issues such as human rights, health interventions, law and policy, ethics, and technologies.
- Establishing and maintaining good governance, accountability, and management practices. The NSWP continues their ongoing process of internal organisational development. Regular management meetings and elections take place and an organisational manual will be developed.