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.
Societal stigma and punitive legal frameworks often severely impede key populations’ rights to raise families free from interference and discrimination. The experiences of key population groups (gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, sex workers, and transgender people) are diverse, and are informed by varying levels of criminalisation, stigma and discrimination, and individual factors such as socioeconomic status, gender, race, and health status. This paper explores these challenges, and provides recommendations for policymakers.
NSWP denounces the harassment, arrests and detention of sex workers as part of the recently launched ‘Ujana’ programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This NSWP Briefing Note provides information about the United States’ recent legislation - The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) and Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) -that criminalise online platforms used by sex workers for advertising and information sharing, including for safety purposes. The resource provides details on FOSTA/SESTA and the 'End Banking for Human Traffickers Act', which aims to ‘prevent financial transactions involving the proceeds of severe forms of trafficking'.
In 2016, France adopted a law criminalising the clients of sex workers. This report focuses on the impact of this new legislation on the health, rights and living conditions of sex workers in the country.
The full report and 8-page summary of the report are available above in English and French, and on the Médecins du Monde website.
A growing number of countries are considering or implementing sex work law reform focusing on ‘ending demand’, which criminalises the purchase of sexual services. This Policy Brief outlines the impact of ‘end demand’ legislation on the human rights of female sex workers, through research and testimony from NSWP members in countries where paying for sex is criminalised. This document explores how these laws not only fail to promote gender equality for women who sell sex, but actively prevent the realisation of their human rights.
In 1999, the Swedish government embarked on an experiment in social engineering1 to end men’s practice of purchasing commercial sexual services. The government enacted a new law criminalizing the purchase (but not the sale) of sex (Swedish Penal Code). It hoped that the fear of arrest and increased public stigma would convince men to change their sexual behaviour. The government also hoped that the law would force the estimated 1,850 to 3,000 women who sold sex in Sweden at that time to find another line of work.
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.
Published as part of Research for Sex Work 13: HIV and Sex Work – The view from 2012.
You can download this 3 page PDF article above. This article is in English & Chinese.
This is NSWP's response to the consultation carried out in Scotland (UK) on the Criminalisation of the Purchase of Sex.
This proposal would make it illegal to purchase sex in Scotland. Rhoda Grant MSP, who carried out the consultation, believes that ‘prostitution in Scotland is a form of sexual violence against women and sexual exploitation.’ She believes that ‘prostitution is inherently harmful and dehumanising’ and that ‘the majority of those who are involved in prostitution are unwilling participants.’
You can download this 1 page PDF document above. This resource is in English.
This is the second issue of NSWP's quarterly newsletter ‘Sex Work Digest’.
This second issue focuses on Opposing Criminalisation.
This resource is in English. You can download this 5 page PDF above.
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.