Laws and Policies Affecting Sex Work

This reference brief aims to clarify terms and illustrate examples of alternatives to the use of criminal law as a response to sex work. Understanding the range of legislative and policy options for responding to sex work is critical to establishing policies consistent with respecting, protecting, and fulfilling the human rights of sex workers. Laws and policies on sex work should be based on the best available evidence about what works to protect health and rights. They should optimize sex workers’ ability to realize the right to due process under the law, the right to privacy, the right to form associations, the right to be free of discrimination, abuse, and violence, and the right to work and to just and favorable conditions of work.

Sex workers should have a meaningful role in the design, implementation, and monitoring of the laws and policies that affect them.

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