This report was produced by the x:talk project and the main findings reflect the experiences and views of people working in the sex industry in London. The x:talk project is a grassroots sex worker rights network made up of people working in the sex industry and allies. In addition to providing free English classes to migrant sex workers, we support critical interventions around issues of migration, race, gender, sexuality and labour, we participate in feminist and anti-racist campaigns and we are active in the struggle for the rights of sex workers in London, the UK and globally. The x:talk project has been developed from our experiences as workers in the sex industry. x:talk is sex worker-led not because we think that being a ‘sex worker’ is a fixed identity, but because we believe that those who experience the material conditions of the sex industry are in the best position to know how to change it.
This report demonstrates that for the human rights of sex workers to be protected and for instances of trafficking to be dealt with in an effective and appropriate manner, the co-option of anti-trafficking discourse in the service of both an abolitionist approach to sex work and an anti-immigration agenda has to end. Instead there needs to be a shift at the policy, legal and administrative levels to reflect an understanding that the women, men and transgender people engaged in commercial sexual services are engaged in a labour process. The existing focus in anti-trafficking policy on migration, law enforcement and on the sex industry does not address the needs, choices and agency of trafficked people, whether they work in the sex industry or elsewhere, and prevents migrant and non-migrant people working in the sex industry from asserting fundamental rights.