Archive

NGO Reports

Over the past two decades there has been a growing body of academic and community-based literature on sex workers’ lives and work. However, the discourses, laws, and policies that impact sex workers are continually changing, and critical perspectives are constantly needed. Therefore, this Special Issue of the Anti-Trafficking Review highlights some of the current achievements of – and challenges faced by – the global sex worker rights movement.

Contributors examine the ways in which organising and collectivisation have enabled sex workers to speak up for themselves and tell their own stories, claim their human, social, and labour rights, resist stigma and punitive laws and policies, and provide mutual and peer-based support. The contexts in focus include Canada, Latin America and Caribbean, United States, France, South Africa, India, Thailand and the Philippines.

Published: 2019-04-29

Abstract

The Legal Aid Society’s Exploitation Intervention Project (EIP) represents most individuals prosecuted for violating New York State prostitution laws. EIP also represents survivors of trafficking into prostitution and works to clear charges from their criminal records if they were a result of having been trafficked. Urban researchers gathered data from both groups of EIP clients to describe who is facing arrest in New York City for prostitution and who has faced arrest and prosecution for prostitution in the past. This study explores the background and needs of EIP clients, in addition to the challenges these clients face within the criminal legal system.

Full report available here.

Skilbrei, May-Len, and Marianne Tveit. “Facing Return.” Perception of Repatrition among Nigerian Woman in Prostitution in Norway. Fafo rapport 1 (2007): 2007.

This report deals with the issue of repatriation of Nigerian women in prostitution in Norway, and aims at creating knowledge about what influences whether they want to go back to Nigeria or not. Some of the women have migrated and entered prostitution in a way that constitute trafficking, and all the women has suffered from some form of exploitation in their way from Nigeria to Norway. Norwegian authorities have certain obligations towards women that are identified victims of trafficking, and repatriation to the home country has to take place in a safe and dignified way. The report Facing return: Perception of repatriation among Nigerian women in prostitution in Norway is based on a qualitative study among Nigerian women in prostitution in Norway, and it describes and explores Nigerian women’s views on the future and the possibility of returning to Nigeria.

As there are substantial individual variations in regard to the women’s experiences and attitudes, the needs of the Nigerian women in prostitution in Norway in a return process will vary accordingly. The report states that it is important that repatriation and rehabilitation efforts are sensitive towards these variations in needs in order to hinder stigmatisation or prosecution, and, not the least to increase the women’s chances to make a better life for themselves upon return.

Full text available here.

Melissa Ditmore, Sex Workers Project, “The Use of Raids to Fight Trafficking in Persons”. New York: Urban Justice Center, 2009

This report summarizes the findings of a human rights documentation project conducted by the Sex Workers Project in 2007 and 2008 to explore the impacts and effectiveness of current anti-trafficking approaches in the US from a variety of perspectives. It is among the first efforts since the passage of the TVPA to give voice to the perspectives of trafficked persons and sex workers who have experienced anti-trafficking raids. A total of 46 people were interviewed for this report, including immigrant sex workers and trafficked persons who have experienced raids or otherwise had contact with law enforcement, along with service providers, attorneys, and law enforcement personnel.

The data collected from this small to medium-sized sample is extremely rich, and suggests that vice raids conducted by local law enforcement agencies are an ineffective means of locating and identifying trafficked persons. Our research also reveals that vice raids and federal anti-trafficking raids are all too frequently accompanied by violations of the human rights of trafficked persons and sex workers alike, and can therefore be counterproductive to the underlying goals of anti-trafficking initiatives. Our findings suggest that a rights-based and “victim-centered” approach to trafficking in persons requires the development and promotion of alternate methods of identifying and protecting the rights of trafficked persons which prioritize the needs, agency, and self-determination of trafficking survivors. They also indicate that preventative approaches, which address the circumstances that facilitate trafficking in persons, should be pursued over law enforcement based responses.

Full text available here.

Stacey-Leigh Manoek, ‘”Stop Harassing Us! Tackle Real Crime!” Human Rights Violations by Police Against Sex Workers in South Africa.’ 2012 Women’s Legal Centre (with SWEAT and Sisonke)

The human rights abuse of sex workers in South Africa is alarming and demands immediate attention. Seven out of 10 sex workers who approached the WLC to report a violation had experienced some form of abuse by the police. Sex workers experience violence during arrest by police officers who routinely beat them, pepper spray them and sexually assault them.

This report draws on the views and voices of more than 300 sex workers in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Limpopo, all of whom approached the Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) for information on their rights or legal assistance between September 2009 and July 2011.

Full text available here.

Uhl, Bärbel, et. al: Data Protection Challenges in Anti-Trafficking Policies – A Practical Guide, 2015.

The European NGO initiative datACT – data protection in anti-trafficking action published the practical guide “Data Protection Challenges in Anti-Trafficking Policies”.

The publication offers an overview of the relevant European data protection provisions, a methodology to conduct privacy impact assessments for anti-trafficking NGO service providers, an analysis for the privacy rights claims for trafficked persons, and data protection standards for NGO service providers. Moreover, the study contains an elaboration of legal arguments that lead in 2013 to the failure of mandatory registration of sex workers in the Netherlands.

http://www.datact-project.org/en/materials/study.html

INDOORS Project (Veronica Munk, ed.), “Pictures of a Reality: Sex workers talk about their life and work experiences within the indoor sex work setting in nine European cities”. Autres Regards, Marseille, October 2012.

“The aim of this book is to dismantle the idea that sex work is a uniform universe where sex workers are part of one and the same group.

This exhibition presents sex workers in their entire complex human dimension, which is composed of all sorts of opinions on the same subject, of joy and fear over their work, of happiness and doubts regarding their lives.

These are, then, the main objectives of Pictures of a Reality: to show the diversity within the sex work context, the multiplicity of its population, but also to dismantle the idea of victimisation of sex workers, demonstrating that not all sex workers were deceived or threatened, but that the world of prostitution is composed of people of all genders who are conscious of their choice. Even if it is not the best choice for some of them, it is a concrete labour alternative at a given moment in their lives.

The idea behind this book is to show that sex work is a reality, part of society, of any society, independently of whether or not that society recognises it as a matter of fact. This recognition process depends on the level of the moral and/or political discussion taking place in a given society, regarding not only sex work itself, but also topics such as migration and the labour market.

Pictures of a Reality was developed as an instrument against stigma, discrimination and clichés, as a tool to break taboos regarding sex work, sex workers, and the indoor prostitution setting in Europe. This was achieved because, for a change, sex workers were the ones talking about themselves and their environment, without ‘taboos’ or distortion. They were the ones to show us the reality: their reality.

Reality has, however, multiple faces, as individuals will have different perceptions of any given situation. Therefore, to show a wider dimension of this reality, to contrast these perceptions, the book also presents the opinion of ‘other’ professionals, persons who are directly or indirectly involved with sex workers.

Sex workers’ declarations are there to reduce and deconstruct myths about them, by painting a picture of what they really are. However, through all the differences, one aspect is common to all sex workers in all nine European cities: their demand for rights and respect.”

Full text available here.

x:talk project (2010): Human rights, sex work and the challenge of trafficking.

PDF

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.