This systematic review and meta-analysis, led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), has found that sex workers who have experienced 'regressive policing' (including arrest, extortion and violence from police), are three times more likely to experience sexual or physical violence. The study examines the impacts of criminalisation on sex workers’ safety, health, and access to services, using data from 33 countries. Sex workers' health and safety was found to be at risk not only in countries where sex work was criminalised, but also in Canada, which has introduced the “Nordic model”, where purchasing sex is specifically criminalised.
This reference text seeks to "clarify terms and illustrate examples of alternatives to the use of criminal law as a response to sex work". It provides capsule definitions - with small case-studies or examples - of what a variety of laws and policies look like in terms of their impact on sex work, covering criminalisation, legalisation, and decriminalisation, along with a mini-discussion of other laws that are used against sex workers, such as the criminalisation of HIV transmission, or immigration enforcement.
NSWP welcomes the launch today of the ‘Prevention and Treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections for sex workers in low- and middle-income countries: Recommendations for a public health approach’. The guidance was developed jointly with WHO,UNFPA, UNAIDS and NSWP who conducted the qualitative survey of sex worker values and preferences relating to the interventions being considered.
The report is designed for use by national public health officials and managers of HIV/AIDS and STI programmes, NGOs and health workers, but will also be of interest to international funding agencies, health policy-makers and advocates. It combines good practice recommendations derived from ethics and human rights principles, with technical evidence-based recommendations supported by scientific evidence AND the lived experiences of sex workers across the globe.
NSWP particularly welcomes the recommendations that governments should work towards the decriminalisation of sex work and elimination of the unjust application of non-criminal laws and regulations against sex workers which exacerbate sex workers vulnerability to HIV and STIs. In addition we welcome the recommendation that HIV prevention and treatment programmes need to include interventions to enhance community empowerment among sex workers that is sex worker-led and we particularly welcome the recommendation set out in the document that redefines the ethical use of periodic presumptive treatment (PPT) for sex workers. It emphasises that PPT should only be used as an emergency short term measure under the strictest of conditions and while comprehensive sexual health services are being developed and that PPT must only be offered if its uptake is voluntary, not imposed as part of a coercive or mandatory public health regime.
Sex workers are frequently omitted from discussions about the links between criminalisation, marginalisation, and increased HIV transmission. At the IAS 2010 conference in Vienna, substantial attention was focused on the negative impacts that criminalisation has on men who have sex with men, injection drug users, and people living with HIV—but very little on its effects on sex workers. Few outside of the Global Village explicitly called for decriminalisation of sex work or mentioned that laws criminalizing HIV transmission and exposure exacerbate the damage already being done to sex workers' health and rights. This article explores this omission, how other hard-hit constituencies have struggled for their place on the HIV/AIDS advocacy agenda, and why the HIV/AIDS field should be actively collaborating with sex workers' rights organisations, particularly on anti-criminalisation work.