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Trafficking in persons has generated increasing global attention in recent decades, largely due to the development of international frameworks, pressure from fundamental feminist and abolitionist groups, and as a reaction to increased migration for labour. International policies on trafficking frequently contain vague or ambiguous language, which can cause harm to sex workers in a number of ways.

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.

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.

This resource is a Community Guide to the Policy Brief on the Impact of Criminalisation on Sex Workers’ Vulnerability to HIV and Violence. This guide summarises how criminalisation increases sex workers’ vulnerability to violence and HIV, and makes a series of recommendations towards the full decriminalisation of sex work as an integral step to improving the lives of sex workers. The full Policy Brief is available here

This policy brief examines the impact of laws that criminalise sex work, informed by NSWP members’ submissions to an e-consultation. It examines the impact of criminalisation at three distinct phases: the surveillance and policing of sex workers prior to arrest; arrest and formal involvement of the criminal justice system; and release and return to the community. The paper covers various areas of law and law enforcement practices that disproportionately impact sex workers, including immigration laws, policing of public spaces, anti-LGBTQ laws, HIV criminalisation and religious codes.